Advocates object to new policy on care packages for the incarcerated
Rick Karlin is reporting at Capitol Confidential reform advocates contend a new program that privatizes the sending of care packages to incarcerated people is punitive, but prison officials say it is intended to fight contraband. “People are very upset and families are upset,” said Jack Beck, who runs the Prisoner Visiting project at the Correctional Association of New York, a group that advocates for better prison conditions. “We are doing everything we can to stop it,” said Judith Brink of the Prison Action Network, which has launched a letter-writing campaign. At issue is a new policy in which friends and family members of state detainees can no longer directly send care packages of food, books, clothing and other items. Instead they must order the items from a pre-approved list of vendors that specialize in inmate needs. The policy will be phased in at all New York prisons by next year. Beck and other critics say the new policy will make it harder for the incarcerated to get fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as books, sheets and towels. Another concern centers on a lack of diversity in reading material. A spokesman for the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision said the change of policy is intended to reduce contraband brought into the prisons. Read the full story at Capitol Confidential, a Times Union blog.