Per DOC Policy 450.100 Mail for Individuals in Prison (pdf), the department has established procedures to maintain safety and security governing mail to/from incarcerated individuals, including publications such as books, newspapers, certain catalogs and brochures, and other publications. Books, magazines, newspapers, catalogs, and brochures will only be treated as publications if they contain a publishing company/author, publication date, volume/issue number or other identifier, copyright notice/date, and publisher address. All other catalogs/brochures will be considered general incoming mail.
Book Donations to Individuals
Incarcerated individuals may receive new books, newspapers, certain catalogs and brochures, and other publications in any language sent directly from the publisher(s) or vendor(s).
Incarcerated individuals may receive used books in any language from approved non-profit organizations. To become an approved non-profit book donator please fill out the request form (email).
Book Donations to a Facility
Community members, community groups, publishers, vendors or non-profits may donate new or used books to a facility.
Examples of approved vendors include Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Local stores and publishers are also approved. If you have questions about whether a vendor is approved, you can contact the facility where the inmate is housed.
Department approved non-profits list can be found here (pdf). To become an approved non-profit book donator please fill out the request form (email). If approved, the non-profit will be added to the approved list by the end of the requesting month.
If a non-profit submits a request to be recognized by the department and is denied, they have the opportunity to appeal by replying to the decision email within 10 business days with a short narrative of why they would like to appeal. The appeal will be sent to the assistant secretary of prisons for a final decision. All final appeal decisions will be valid for one calendar year from the original application, at which point one may reapply.
Please see Rejection Reasons (pdf) for a list of reasons why mail and publications may be rejected.
Items such as product samples, CDs, DVDs, etc., will be removed if doing so will not alter the publication. If the item cannot be removed without altering the publication (i.e., tearing a page from the publication), or if the item potentially has value (i.e., CDs included with books), the entire publication will be rejected. Loose advertisement cards may be removed as staffing resources allow. No publication will be withheld solely on the basis of their appeal to a particular ethnic, racial, religious, or political group or sexual orientation.
Publications must be delivered to the facility by USPS, UPS, or FedEx and are not considered first class mail per USPS Domestic Mail Manual. Front door courier delivery (e.g. newspapers) is not allowed.
Only newspaper publications will be allowed for individuals housed in reception diagnostic centers.
Publications in languages other than English must be reviewed by the headquarters correctional manager. Publications written in Braille, except those received by facility libraries, will be limited to incarcerated individuals with a documented vision disability.
Individuals may not receive gift subscriptions and/or publications from another incarcerated individual, or the friends or family of another unrelated incarcerated individual.
A comprehensive list of book denials reviewed by the Publications Review Committee, which includes restricted books.
All incoming mail and publications are reviewed by prison facility mailroom employees. When rejecting mail, mailroom employees will provide written notice (DOC 05-525 Rejection Notice (pdf) form) to the inmate with the reason for rejection.
Publication Review Process
The mailroom staff will also provide the rejection notice, along with scans of the rejected pages, to the Publication Review Committee (PRC) at DOC Headquarters. The membership of the PRC shall consist of the security operations program manager, disciplinary program manager and library/archival program manager.
The PRC will meet at least monthly to review rejected correspondence/items and documents. When they have completed the review process, the Committee will return the packet to the facility with its decision. Generally the inmate will be notified of the PRC's decision within 10 working days after it is made. However, publications requiring more information may take an additional 2 weeks to review.
Publications initially rejected as sexually explicit material per WAC 137-48-020(13a-d) may be approved by the Committee for artistic, health/medical, and educational purposes.
If an inmate appeals the denial, the DOC 05-525 Rejection Notice (pdf) form is sent to the mail room Sargent. The mailroom will forward the appeal request to the Correctional Manager at DOC Headquarters, who will provide a response to the requester.
The Correctional Manager’s decision is final.
The final decision made regarding a particular publication will be binding for all prisons for at least 3 years. The Assistant Secretary for Prisons/designee (Correctional Manager) will maintain the decision in a database for at least 3 years.