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Harris County Jail to implement digital mail system, combating contraband

22 Nov 2023, Jail News, by

Harris County Jail will soon implement a digital mail system, minimizing contraband concerns linked to paper mail.

Harris County Jail to implement digital mail system, combating contraband - Inmate Lookup

In a bid to tackle contraband issues related to conventional paper mail, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) is soon implementing a digital mail system in Harris County Jail. According to Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, the system’s setup is almost complete.

Recently, Ronald Lewis, 77, was charged with bringing synthetic marijuana and ecstasy-soaked paper to jail. He received two felony charges for bringing a prohibited substance into the county jail. Gonzalez called the case part of the fight to keep drugs out of jail.

The upcoming mail system will involve Securus, the company currently managing the jail’s phones, providing inmates with secure tablets for viewing scanned mail, according to Sheriff’s Chief of Staff Jason Spencer.

The system, which County Commissioners approved in May, will provide inmates with extra services like text and video chats as well as access to entertainment and legal resources, subject to fees and restrictions. Securus has implemented comparable systems in other facilities, such as the Fort Bend County jail.

As of September 6, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice also switched to a digital mail system across all of its prison units.

To address contraband concerns at present, Gonzalez said that the jail has introduced measures such as deploying three drug-sniffing dogs, photocopying incoming mail, and specific types of legal correspondence. These copies are then given to inmates, reducing the reliance on original paper documents.

With the Harris County Jail currently housing over 9,200 inmates and an average length of stay of 194 days, the move towards a digital mail system aligns with a broader shift in correctional facilities towards more secure and safe communication methods.