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Federal prison guards set-up

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  • Legalbear
    A friend of mine was in Federal jail in North Carolina. His wife complained that they we opening and reading his mail and in some instances not even
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 3, 2003
      A friend of mine was in Federal jail in North Carolina. His wife complained
      that they we opening and reading his mail and in some instances not even
      delivering it. This can present a problem when you are doing your own case
      pro-se or in propria persona with assistance from those on the outside.
      This can present a formidable problem. I always solve this type of problem
      by starting with the concept of "anticipate the oppression." It goes like
      this; if I send my friend some legal mail we know they're going to open it.
      After they open it they're going to read it. How can we make them not want
      to do that anymore? I concluded what I would do was laden the letter with
      research on how what that particular circuit thought about the opening of
      legal mail outside the inmate presence. I researched out that Circuit
      and...they don't agree with that!! In the process I learned that there is a
      federal statute and reg that deals with the opening of legal mail. That
      statute and reg says that if you put "Special mail-open in the presence of
      the inmate" that is what the jailers are required to do. So, I wrote a
      letter. Here's what it said:

      RE: Unauthorized reading your legal mail by detention officers


      Your wife was telling me that you've been having problems with the
      mishandling, opening out of your presence, and, possibly the reading of your
      legal mail by detention facility officers processing it.

      Please find enclosed case law from the 4th Circuit going back to 1977
      showing that they approve of requiring the detention officers that handle
      your legal mail to open it in your presence. I've highlighted those
      portions in red. Since you're a federal prisoner I've also enclosed
      regulations out of 28 C.F.R. demonstrating that is the same position that
      the Feds hold. Also, enclosed is North Carolina statutes stating that the
      "Secretary" is supposed to make regulations regulating how jails, such as
      the one you are detained in, are to be run. I would suggest you use either
      North Carolina Open Records Act, or, your common law right to access
      governmental records to obtain a copy of those regulations. They may prove
      useful. Usually, detention officers are not knowledgeable about the law and
      all you will need to do is inform them as to what the law is and they will
      do what is right. If they've been violating your right to receive
      correspondence from lawyers or legal aids you could sue them personally
      unless they are doing it because of a systemic custom or policy in which
      case you don't even need to be damaged to get the big bucks.

      I suggest that you take the applicable portions of the enclosed statutes and
      case law and pursue your administrative remedies within the jail. Your
      inmate handbook should spell out the procedure. It usually includes putting
      an administrative demand with your pod officer who should then forward it to
      the applicable person (whoever is in charge of the processing of legal mail)
      who should then respond in writing to your demand. If that person's
      decision is adverse to you, appeal it to the next level. Keep going up
      until you get to the sheriff. If none of them will do what is right, you
      may have to sue them for abuse of discretion and for damages in a court of
      general jurisdiction in whatever county you're in there in North Carolina.

      One other suggestion, ask your pod officer if there is a specific procedure
      to receive legal mail at the jail and have it opened in your presence. It
      may be that there is a way but they just haven't told you. It'll be
      interesting to see what they do.

      Dog gone it, the officers never saw my wonderful letter! When they saw the
      special mail note on the envelope they took it straight to him unopened,
      handed it to him, and walked away! Bear

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