February 19, 2019 | The Morning Call | Steve Esack
Criminal defense lawyers, including those who work with death row inmates, stopped sending legal documents in the mail to Pennsylvania prison inmates for fear their privacy was being compromised by government officials, according to testimony at a federal hearing Tuesday.
The lawyers testified in support of two consolidated lawsuits in U.S. District Court in Harrisburg. The lawsuits challenge the legality of a 2018 state policy of screening inmates’ mail for synthetic drugs.
The Department of Corrections’ policy prohibits inmates from getting mail delivered directly from lawyers, family and friends. It was instituted last summer in an attempt to stem an influx of illegal synthetic drugs, primarily k2, from being dipped and dried onto mail. The influx led to a rash of security and medical problems, and a 12-day lockdown of all state prisons.