Prisoners in Sask. no longer allowed to mail each other after using the service to distribute drugs

Click to play video: 'Inmates in provincial correctional facilities prohibited from sending mail after contraband operation'
Inmates in provincial correctional facilities prohibited from sending mail after contraband operation
WATCH ABOVE: Inmates in the province's correctional facilities are no longer allowed to send each other mail. The new policy comes after the discovery of a large mail-based contraband operation. David Baxter has more in this report. – Nov 3, 2016

Desiree Gory was held in remand for six months at the Pine Grove Correctional Centre in Prince Albert. She was released in May, 2016, and credits letters from her fiancé for helping her get through her time.

Gory and her fiancé were both in custody at the same time. Under new mail rules they may not have been able to send each other letters.

Desiree Gory reads a letter sent to her by her fiance when they were both in jail. Kael Donnelly/Global News

As of Nov. 1, inmates are no longer allowed to send mail to other institutions. Family members, which can include romantic partners who aren’t married, are able to receive special permission to mail each other.

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“I think that just cutting people off from any type of support system of being able to correct their behaviour, and to not want to go back to jail,” Gory said.

“It just seems absurd to me that they’re doing this.”

Ministry of Corrections and Policing spokesperson Drew Wilby said there’s a straightforward reason for the policy change.

“It was largely due to drugs, and the way that drugs were finding their way in,” he explained.

Wilby said that people hide substances like marijuana butter and hash oil in letters and other mail like birthday cards.

He said this puts a big strain on resources, since all mail is searched. In February, over 2,400 letters were sent from Pine Grove to other institutions.

“To give you a sense of what that means, the average daily count at Pine Grove in February was 165 female offenders,” Wilby said.

“That would have been 136 letters a day going to correctional facilities across the province. There are not that many personal contacts that need to be made.”

Gory said that it’s easy to fall into a depression in jail. She said the letters helped her both in jail and adjust to regular life again once she was released.

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“I definitely would have easily been lost, and would have came out not near as strong as I was. I easily could have fallen back into old ways,” she said.

Wilby said that Corrections did consult with advocacy agencies like the John Howard Society when drafting the new mail rules.

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