‘Give us our mail!’

Petition from Supporters of San Quentin Inmates to San Quentin State Prison, Office of the Warden 

San Quentin East Block death row

Statistically, 90 percent of inmates lose all contact with family, friends and loved ones after three years. 

And more often than not, losing contact with their friends and family means to lose any positive social influence at all. Which, in the end, is a fact nobody will benefit from; neither the facility, nor the outside society. Least of all the inmates themselves. 

Therefore, according to Title 15 of the California Code of Regulations (General Mail Policy), “The department encourages correspondence between inmates and persons outside the correctional facilities.” 

“Persons outside the correctional facilities” – those are the inmates’ children, wives, parents, siblings. Those are their family and friends, such as us! 

Now, it comes as no surprise that the possibilities to stay in touch with our loved ones in San Quentin State Prison are strictly limited. The more important become the remaining means of communication, such as correspondence via letters. 

Sadly, however, correspondence between us on the outside and our friends and family members in San Quentin State Prison has become gradually difficult, not to say discouraging over time. 

Mail is supposed to be handled and issued in a “timely manner.” Whereas, to our mind, it is not a “timely manner” to receive a Christmas card for Easter. 

It is a matter of fact that the delays in San Quentin mail room are increasing. Mail takes longer and longer; backlogs of five weeks and more are a common occurrence. 

Have you ever waited six weeks for a letter from a person you care for? We do. 

Another common occurrence is that letters get sent back for any or no reason at all, “depending on the current mood of the mail room” (as malicious tongues claim). Have you ever waited six weeks for a letter from a person you care for, just to see that you got your own letter returned? We have. 

In fact, that is what we all go through on a more or less regular basis; and that is what our loved ones in San Quentin go through as well. 

Therefore, the San Quentin Death Row inmates have filed a complaint and collected signatures. Their goal is a settled and dependable mail handling standard that enables them to stay in touch with their family and friends. 

We fully support them. 

In signing this statement, we are supporting the inmates’ complaint and request that mail shall be issued to the inmate as soon as possible, but not later than seven calendar days from receipt of the mail from the post office at the facility. 

In case a delay occurs, we request that the facility do whatever it needs to have the mail caught up and delivered on time. Also, we request that, in case a delay occurs and mail is withheld, the inmates shall be informed about the reason. 

We furthermore request that the mail room staff shall handle incoming mail according to the mail policy. We all try and accept the San Quentin Mail Policy as good as we can; however, it is difficult to play along with the rules when the rules are a matter of constant change. And more often than not, we all have experienced that it is the mail room staff who fail to act according to their own regulations. 

In summarizing, we declare that the extreme delays in the mail we all have experienced in the past are no longer acceptable. Neither are the hit-and-miss standards by which mail is getting handled.

Spread the word. Sign the petition. Ask everyone with access to the internet to go online to www.ipetitions.com/petition/SanQuentinMail/?e.