Per DOC Policy 450.100 Mail for Prison Offenders, 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.
Incarcerated individuals may receive new books, newspapers, certain catalogs and brochures, and other publications in any language sent directly from the publisher(s) and/or approved vendor(s).
Used Books from Non-Profit Organizations
Incarcerated individuals may receive used books in any language from non-profit organizations approved by the superintendent. Superintendent contact information may obtained on the prisons contact page. Individuals house in stand alone minimum security facilities may also receive used books from a publisher or approved vendor.
Approved VendorsExamples of approved vendors include Amazon and Barnes & Noble. If you have questions about whether a vendor is approved, contact the prison facility where the inmate is incarcerated.
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 publications reviewed by the Publications Review Committee, which includes allowed and restricted publications.
All incoming mail and publications is reviewed by prison facility mailroom employees. When rejecting mail, mailroom employees will provide written notice (DOC 05-525 Rejection Notice form) to the inmate with the reason for rejection. Please see Rejection Reasons for a list of reasons why mail and publications may be rejected.
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 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 rejection, the DOC 05-525 Rejection Notice form is sent to the Superintendent/designee of the facility where the inmate is incarcerated for decision.
If the rejection decision is upheld by the Superintendent/designee the rejected content, inmate appeal, and Rejection Notice are scanned and placed in secured folder, accessible by the Publication Review Committee. If the rejected content cannot be scanned or digitally photographed, it is sent to DOC Headquarters for review via USPS.
If the Superintendent/designee grants the appeal, they may submit a written appeal request to the mailroom within 10 days of the Committee’s decision. 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.