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href="https://www.themarshallproject.org/2018/01/04/the-latest-big-win-for-prison-privatization?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter&utm_source=opening-statement&utm_term=newsletter-20180105-923">https://www.themarshallproject.org/2018/01/04/the-latest-big-win-for-prison-privatization?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter&utm_source=opening-statement&utm_term=newsletter-20180105-923</a></font>
        <h1 id="reader-title">New York Has Now Privatized Care Packages
          for Prisoners</h1>
        By <span><a
            href="https://www.themarshallproject.org/staff/taylor-eldridge">Taylor
            Elizabeth Eldridge</a> - January 4, 2018</span></div>
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                  <p class="copy"><span class="title">Opening Statement</span><span
                      class="body">The best criminal justice news from
                      around the web, delivered daily.</span></p>
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              <article class="post-1365">
                <aside class="col4"> </aside>
                <p>New York’s prison system just banned something
                  unusual from the outside: fresh fruits and veggies. As
                  of this month, care packages sent to some inmates must
                  come through private companies — no more parcels with
                  food and goodies sent from home. </p>
                <p>The state has entered the <a
href="https://www.themarshallproject.org/2017/12/21/the-big-business-of-prisoner-care-packages">big
                    business of prisoner care packages</a>, joining the
                  ranks of the hundreds of other local and state
                  corrections agencies using private companies for the
                  service. Instead of heading to a local convenience or
                  grocery store to find gifts, loved ones have to choose
                  from a selection of pre-approved items in the
                  companies’ catalogs. </p>
                <p>The change went into effect this month at three
                  facilities in a pilot program, Greene, Taconic and
                  Green Haven Correctional Facilities. But the state
                  plans to expand to the whole system — the fourth
                  largest in the nation — by the fall.</p>
                <p>The prison system says the switch will significantly
                  reduce contraband, such as drugs or weapons, from
                  getting into facilities, making them safer for inmates
                  and staff. The state Department of Corrections and
                  Community Supervision would not say if there have been
                  particular incidents that provoked the change.
                  Although many corrections departments take a cut of
                  the profits in these deals, New York is not receiving
                  a commission from the companies.</p>
                <p>There are three exceptions to the new rule: wedding
                  rings worth less than $150; clothes for a prisoner to
                  wear when he or she is released; and non-electrical
                  instruments can all be sent straight from home. Any
                  other items not sent through the approved companies
                  will be considered contraband and returned to the
                  sender or discarded, including books. </p>
                <p>The approved vendors are well-established in the
                  corrections industry: Access Securepak, E-Ford
                  Commissary, Union Supply Group, Jack L. Marcus Company
                  and Walkenhorst. Each company says it makes sending
                  care packages simpler and less stressful since all
                  offered items have been pre-approved.</p>
                <a class="house-ad house-ad-11" data-hotzone=""
                  href="https://www.themarshallproject.org/witnesses"
                  data-id="11" data-hotzone-state="off"
                  data-hotzone-last-event="tmp_hotzone_end"> </a>
                <p>But advocates say private package companies make the
                  process unnecessarily difficult and expensive.
                  Caroline Hsu, a staff attorney with the Prisoners’
                  Rights Project of the Legal Aid Society, says the
                  companies’ prices for simple things such as rice or
                  Oreos can be much higher than those at local stores.
                  For those with no credit card or internet at home,
                  using the online catalogs can be near-impossible. </p>
                <p>Under the new rule, an inmate can receive at most six
                  packages a month — three ordered by loved ones, and
                  three ordered directly by the inmate. Each package
                  can’t weigh more than 30 pounds, and the total weight
                  of food within the package has to be less than 8
                  pounds. That’s a maximum of 16 pounds of food a month
                  — less than half of what was allowed under the old
                  rules. Loved ones were also able to bring food with
                  them during a visit, to supplement prison meals. </p>
                <p>Packages are critical, especially for those who don’t
                  eat the prison food, says Jack Beck, director of the
                  Prison Visiting Project run by the Correctional
                  Association of New York, a nonprofit with authority to
                  inspect state prisons. “Some people prepare all their
                  food based on the contents of packages they receive,”
                  he said. </p>
                <p>Most contraband can be prevented if correctional
                  officers do an adequate job of inspecting packages,
                  Beck says. “It’s not an insurmountable issue,” he
                  said.</p>
                <p>Even with the more restricted rule, staffers have to
                  take an additional step: a package must be inspected
                  in front of the inmate. If anything raises a red flag,
                  officers can open an item and take a closer look. If
                  an item does not pass inspection, the inmate has to
                  sign a special form, identifying the item and how he
                  or she wants it to be disposed of. </p>
                <p>For many advocates, the outcry against the program is
                  about more than just catalog options and prices.
                  “Packages and food are ways that people can find
                  comfort to remind themselves that they’re human,” Hsu
                  said. “Taking those away tells people they’re not
                  worth anything.”</p>
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