Reviser's note: The following material has not been adopted under the Administrative Procedure Act, chapter 34.05 RCW, but has been filed in the office of the code reviser and is published in the Register exactly as filed. Following are amendments to chapter 137-48 WAC, Inmate mail and communications. This amendment is submitted for publication in the Washington State Register and the Washington Administrative Code. Pertinent information follows:
1. The amendments to chapter 137-48 WAC, Inmate mail and communications, are adopted as of June 2, 2002 .
2. The effective date of these amendments shall be July 2, 2005.
3. I certify pursuant to RCW 34.05.030 that the rule as stated above is excluded from the Administrative Procedure Act.
for Harold W. Clarke
AMENDATORY SECTION(Amending WSR 91-23-103, filed 11/20/91, effective 1/1/92)
WAC 137-48-010 Purpose. The purpose of these rules is to maintain the safety, security, and discipline of adult prison((
s and prerelease)) facilities operated under the
jurisdiction of the department of corrections in accordance
with Title 72 RCW et al., by establishing guidelines for the
development of departmental(( , division,)) and institution
level policies and rules governing the receipt and sending of
mail by inmates to prevent the transmission of illegal items
or contraband into or out of an institution. These rules
shall not apply to work release facilities under the
jurisdiction of the department.
[91-23-103, § 137-48-010, filed 11/20/91, effective 1/1/92. Statutory Authority: RCW 72.08.380, 72.09.050 and 72.12.140. 83-20-036 (Order 83-09), § 137-48-010, filed 9/27/83.]
"Disposable income" funds in an inmate's trust
account from any source, which are not frozen or debited by
application of (LFO) legal financial obligations or
disciplinary/administrative restitution mandates.
(3) "Division director" the director of community corrections or prisons or his/her designee(s).
(4))) "Emergency situations" are critical illnesses, deaths, or similar situations experienced by members of the inmate's family or the inmate.
(5))) (3) "Illegal items" are items which are unlawful
for any person to possess within the community as defined by
the laws of the state of Washington, controlled substances as
defined and listed in chapter 69.50 RCW or any weapon,
firearm, or any instrument which, if used, could produce
serious bodily injury to (( the person of)) another.
(6))) (4) "Indigent inmate" an inmate who has less than
a ten-dollar balance of disposable income in his/her trust
fund account on the day (( of the postage)) a request is made
to utilize funds and during the (( seven)) thirty days
(( preceding)) previous to the (( postage)) request(( ; except
(a) An inmate who has received at least twenty dollars cumulative from any source(s) shall not be considered indigent for thirty days following the accumulation of the twenty dollars unless the disposable income account balance is reduced to less than ten dollars by mandatory LFO, disciplinary sanction, or other mandatory administrative process; or
(b) An inmate who receives a lump sum of five hundred dollars or more from any source shall not be considered indigent for a period of six months from the date of receipt of the five hundred dollars unless the disposable income account balance is reduced to less than ten dollars by application of LFO obligations, a disciplinary sanction, or any legislative or administratively mandated requirements)).
(7))) (5) "Inspection of mail" the physical act of
opening, touching, (( smelling,)) and/or reading of mail, the
use of mechanical or chemical systems and/or the use of
animals to determine the presence of contraband or illegal
(8))) (6) "Legal mail" is correspondence to or from
courts and court staff (judges, clerks of the court, judicial
law clerks, etc.), attorneys (( and persons working for
attorneys and to)), established groups of attorneys involved
in the representation of inmates in judicial proceedings
(ACLU, legal services groups, etc.)(( . Legal mail may also be
mail to or from any local, county, state, or national, or
foreign governmental agency, executive or legislative body,
and/or any person representing such agency or body in an)),
the President or Vice-President of the United States, members
of the United States Congress, embassies and consulates, the
United States Department of Justice, state attorney general,
governors, members of the state legislature, and law
enforcement officers in their official capacity.
Note:)) To be considered and therefore handled as
"legal mail" the correspondence must be clearly marked "legal
mail" on the outside front of the envelope, and must have a
return address which clearly indicates that the mail is from
one of the above listed sources.
(9))) (7) "Letters" consist of handwritten/typed
communications and/or written/pictorial enclosures to and from
inmates. A standard first class, one ounce letter shall be
consistent with the dimensions, weight, and thickness as
prescribed by the United States Postal Service. A properly
addressed and stamped post card or greeting card shall be
processed with the same standards as described above for a
first class one ounce letter. Nonstandard first class mail
requires a surcharge as established by the United States
(10))) (8) "Mail" consists of letters, publications, or
packages delivered by the United States Post Office or by
other established and authorized carriers.
(11))) (9) "Packages" a wrapped or boxed object; a
parcel or bundle containing one or more objects, a container
in which something is packed for storage or transport or
(12))) (10) "Publications" consists of reproduced
handwritten or typed/printed or pictorial materials including
books, periodicals, newspapers, magazines, and pamphlets.
(13))) (11) "Return address" for an inmate this
includes the full committed name, and may include any other
legal name, DOC number, housing assignment, and the full name
of the correctional facility from which the correspondence is
mailed. For a free citizen this includes a reasonable return
address as recognized by the United States Postal Service.
(14))) (12) "Secretary" is the secretary of the
department of corrections or his/her designee(s).
(15))) (13) "Sexually explicit" means any pictorial
representation that is intended for sexual gratification and
shows male or female genitalia, full frontal nudity, or
depicts one or more of the following sexual behaviors:
(a) One or more of the participants appears to be nonconsenting;
(b) One or more of the participants appears to be acting in a forceful, threatening, or violent manner;
(c) One or more of the participants appears to be dominating one or more of the other participants or one or more of the participants appears to be in a submissive role or one or more of the participants appears to be degraded, humiliated, or appears to willingly engage in behavior that is degrading or humiliating;
(d) One of the participants appears to be a minor, or a minor alone is depicted in a sexually suggestive way;
(e) Bodily excretory behavior which appears to be sexual in nature;
(f) Bestiality, sadomasochistic behavior, and/or bondage; or
(g) Depicts sexual behaviors including, but not limited to, intercourse/penetration, sodomy, fellatio, cunninlingus, anilingus, or masturbation.
The term sexually explicit also refers to those written materials that are intended for sexual gratification and describe one or more of the above sexual behaviors as the predominant theme of the publication or letter.
(14) "Superintendent" means the superintendent of a correctional facility or his/her designee(s).
[91-23-103, § 137-48-020, filed 11/20/91, effective 1/1/92. Statutory Authority: RCW 72.09.050, 72.08.103, 72.13.080 and 72.15.040. 84-08-011 (Order 84-04), § 137-48-020, filed 3/26/84. Statutory Authority: RCW 72.08.380, 72.09.050 and 72.12.140. 83-20-036 (Order 83-09), § 137-48-020, filed 9/27/83. Formerly WAC 275-96-005.]
(2) No person who inspects, or participates in the inspection, of an inmate's mail, shall disclose the contents except in the cause of his/her official duties.
(3) Mail (incoming or outgoing) which is clearly
identified on the outside of the envelope as legal mail, as
defined in WAC 137-48-020, shall be inspected only in the
presence of the inmate. Legal mail shall not be read without
a search warrant but may be ((
visually scanned)) inspected in
the presence of the inmate to verify legal mail status and
that the mail is free of contraband.
(4) Mail containing illegal items or contraband shall be held and disposed of in accordance with the procedures set forth in chapter 137-36 WAC or as otherwise stated in this chapter.
[91-23-103, § 137-48-030, filed 11/20/91, effective 1/1/92. Statutory Authority: RCW 72.08.380, 72.09.050 and 72.12.140. 83-20-036 (Order 83-09), § 137-48-030, filed 9/27/83.]
(a) The mail ((
contains)) threatens illegal activity,
including but not limited to, threats of physical harm
(( against any person or threats of criminal activity.
(b) The mail threatens)), blackmail or extortion.
(c) The)) (b) The mail threatens the safety and
security of the institution, including but not limited to,
mail (( concerns)) concerning sending contraband (( in or out of
(d) The mail contains plans to)) escape((
(e) The mail contains)) plans, security devices, or mail
that is in a code, a foreign language that cannot be
interpreted, does not contain a return address, contains gang
symbols, plans for activities in violation of institutional
, such as riots.
(f) The mail concerns plans for criminal activity.
(g) The mail is in code.
(h) The mail is in a foreign language, its contents are not understood by the reader, and attempts to have the letter interpreted have been unsuccessful.
(i) The mail)) or contains information which, if communicated, would create a risk of violence and/or physical harm.
(j))) (c) The mail (( contains)) is susceptible to the
introduction of contraband, including but not limited to,
altered publications, mail with unknown substances on or in
it, mail purported to be legal mail that is general
correspondence, cash or checks, postage stamps, stickers,
photos wherein the nonphoto side is or can be separated,
publications not mailed directly from vendor, items not
ordered and approved through institution channels, greeting
cards that are padded, laminated/layered or musical.
(k) The mail contains obscene or sexually explicit
materials as defined in department policy and/or division
(l))) (d) Any mail or publication that is deemed to be a threat to legitimate penological objectives, including but not limited to, sexually explicit materials.
(m) The mail advocates that any ethnic, racial, or
religious group is inferior for any reason and makes such
group an object of ridicule and scorn, and it may reasonably
be thought to precipitate a violent confrontation between the
recipient and a member or members of the target group.)) (e)
The mail contains inmate to inmate correspondence that has not
been approved by the superintendent in compliance with
(f) The mail contains items identified by the department secretary or designee as not authorized, including but not limited to, multiple copies of documents, mailings soliciting or offering games of chance, clippings from books or magazines.
(g) The mail is from an individual with whom contact is restricted in compliance with the judgment and sentence, a no contact order, department policy.
(2) Outgoing mail from inmates of institutions may be disapproved for mailing for any one of the following reasons:
(a) For any one of the reasons set forth in WAC 137-48-040(1).
(b) The mail is addressed to a minor whose parents or guardian have objected in writing to such correspondence.
(c) An individual or their guardian who previously has been sent obscene or threatening mail by the inmate has complained or has asked that such mail not be received.
(d) The mail solicits money or goods from a person or organization other than the immediate family of the inmate without the permission of the superintendent. The above provisions may not be construed to preclude the purchase of noncontraband goods or payment for such goods which have been approved by the superintendent or his/her designee.
(e) The outside of the mail (envelope or package) does not contain a return address as defined in WAC 137-48-020.
(3) No mail is to be restricted for the reason that it appeals to a particular ethnic, racial, or religious group, or that it contains critical opinions of departmental policy or departmental employees, unless the mail is also judged to be a threat to legitimate penological objectives.
(4) In addition to those reasons cited in this section, packages sent either to or from an inmate are subject to the following restrictions:
(a) An inmate may receive one gift package not to exceed
fifteen pounds in weight on a quarterly basis. Quarterly
periods shall consist of December through February, March
through May, June through August, and September through
November. Rules governing the contents of quarterly packages
shall be developed specifically by each institutional
superintendent and approved by ((
the division director)) staff
designated by the secretary. The superintendent may allow
exceptions from the one gift package limitation and weight
limitation provided that appropriate contraband controls are
(b) The contents of the quarterly package shall be
restricted to those items that are otherwise not available to
the inmate through the institutional store or other purchasing
outlet provided by the institution. A replacement package may
be sent during the same quarter for damaged packages that are
returned to the sender by the inmate. ((
contraband shall be refused delivery to the inmate and will be
counted as the package for that quarter.))
(c) Prepaid merchandise approved by the superintendent or designee and ordered by the inmate from any wholesaler or retailer shall not be considered one of the quarterly packages.
(d) Inmates may mail packages containing materials which have been sent to him or her in the institution or gifts consisting of his or her own hobby craft or curio work. Packages must be made and mailed at the inmate's expense.
(e) Newly admitted inmates at any department of corrections operated reception center will not receive packages while assigned to the reception center.
[91-23-103, § 137-48-040, filed 11/20/91, effective 1/1/92. Statutory Authority: RCW 72.01.090. 86-21-058 (Order 86-06), § 137-48-040, filed 10/14/86. Statutory Authority: RCW 72.08.380, 72.09.050 and 72.12.140. 83-20-036 (Order 83-09), § 137-48-040, filed 9/27/83. Formerly WAC 275-96-021 and 275-96-022.]
(2) The inmate and sender shall be advised in writing of
his/her right to seek review of the decision to restrict
his/her mail. The review shall be sought by writing directly
to the ((
director, division of community corrections or
prisons)) superintendent/designee within ten calendar days of
the initial restriction decision.
(3) Upon receipt of an inmate's and/or sender's appeal,
director of community corrections or prisons))
superintendent or his/her designee shall affirm or reverse the
action taken at the institution (( level)) and shall (( advise
the inmate and sender)) send a notice of the decision in
writing (( of this action)) within ten working days from the
receipt of the inmate's or sender's written request.
(4) The inmate and the sender may seek a review of the superintendent's/designee's decision by writing directly to the staff designated by the secretary within ten calendar days of the decision.
(5) Upon receipt of the offender's or sender's appeal, the staff designated by the secretary will affirm or reverse the action taken at the facility and will advise the offender or sender in writing of this action within ten calendar days from the receipt of the offender's or sender's written request.
(6) Incarcerated offenders are financially responsible for disposing of their own unauthorized personal property by shipping it to a nonincarcerated person designated by the offender at the offender's expense. The sender should not send stamps or money to the facility or headquarters for this purpose.
(7) When a decision is rendered regarding a particular
issue of a publication, that decision shall be binding for all
prison facilities ((
in the respective correctional division)).
A (( division-wide)) statewide notification shall be promptly
issued from the (( office of the director)) final reviewer when
the decision is rendered.
(5))) (8) If a package contains contraband and is
subject to criminal prosecution, the entire package will be
turned over to the appropriate law enforcement agency. Items
of contraband not subject to criminal prosecution will be
disposed of in accordance with procedures set forth in
departmental(( , division,)) and facility regulations as
authorized by chapter 137-36 WAC.
[91-23-103, § 137-48-050, filed 11/20/91, effective 1/1/92. Statutory Authority: RCW 72.08.380, 72.09.050 and 72.12.140. 83-20-036 (Order 83-09), § 137-48-050, filed 9/27/83. Formerly WAC 275-96-070.]
(2) Mail which arrives at the institution with postage due may, at the option of the superintendent, be delivered to the inmate. The institution may pay the postage due in accordance with subsection (3) of this section, or hold the mail for a reasonable period of time so as to allow the inmate to arrange for payment of the postage due. If such arrangements are not made within the time provided, the package/mail may be donated to charity or discarded.
(3) Indigent inmates shall be authorized to receive
postage up to the equivalent to the mailing cost of ten
, one ounce,)) first class letters per week. This
indigent postage provision shall cover both legal and/or
regular letters (( regardless of the number of letters
identified as legal mail)).
(4) The department shall recoup any expenditures made by the institution for postage due on incoming mail and/or indigent postage for letters, (as identified in subsection (3) of this section) may be recouped by the institution whenever such indigent inmate has ten dollars or more of disposable income in his/her trust fund account.
[91-23-103, § 137-48-060, filed 11/20/91, effective 1/1/92. Statutory Authority: RCW 72.09.050, 72.08.103, 72.13.080 and 72.15.040. 84-08-011 (Order 84-04), § 137-48-060, filed 3/26/84. Statutory Authority: RCW 72.08.380, 72.09.050 and 72.12.140. 83-20-036 (Order 83-09), § 137-48-060, filed 9/27/83. Formerly WAC 275-96-060.]
(2) The superintendent shall promulgate written regulations providing for access of inmates to additional telephone facilities in emergency situations.
(3) The superintendent shall promulgate written
regulations outlining the hours of telephone availability,
maximum length of calls (not less than five minutes),
limitations on telephone use, and provisions for monitoring,
recording, and operator-announced calls as provided for in RCW
[91-23-103, § 137-48-080, filed 11/20/91, effective 1/1/92. Statutory Authority: RCW 72.08.380, 72.09.050 and 72.12.140. 83-20-036 (Order 83-09), § 137-48-080, filed 9/27/83. Formerly WAC 275-96-065.]