Ohio prisons to digitally scan mail to thwart drug smuggling

National/World
Digitizing Mail Prisons

FILE – In this Jan. 22, 2020, file photo, Annette Chambers-Smith, director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, poses outside her office in Columbus, Ohio. The Ohio prison system plans to scan virtually all incoming inmate mail and provide digital copies to inmates to thwart a new form of contraband also being seen nationwide: drugs smuggled into prison by soaking them in paper. Chambers-Smith said thwarting drug smuggling is a necessary measure to help people suffering from addiction, on top of services like medication-assisted treatment. (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins, File)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Ohio prisons system plans to digitally scan virtually all incoming mail for inmates to thwart drugs smuggled by soaking them into paper.

The agency says each prison facility will have scanning equipment to digitally copy mail under a contract with a company called GTL. The contract is worth an estimated $22.7 million annually.

The scanned mail will be delivered to tablets or wall-mounted kiosks that inmates already have access to. Legal mail will be exempt from being digitized.

A spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, JoEllen Smith, says that in the interim, the agency has been photocopying thousands of pages of mail a month.

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