There are two broad categories of mail streams into corrections facilities– personal and legal mail. While the screening process is similar, each has distinct challenges.
The screening of personal mail is involved as every piece must be inspected, including examining all pages in a newspaper or magazine for hidden contraband. Putting each piece of mail through an X-ray scanner is not practical, which also does not detect drugs in small quantities, especially treated papers, powders, and liquids.
Unlike personal mail, the screening of legal mail, from an attorney or court, is a multi-step process, as the mail cannot be opened without cause and requires the inmate to be present. The entire process was labor-intensive, time-consuming, and generally ineffective.
This facility also used technology screening tools, including an X-ray scanner and additional chemical detection devices. While effective at detecting potential weapons, the X-ray could not detect the small amounts of drugs and related contraband, especially suboxone strips, K2 and similarly treated papers, and powder or liquid drugs hidden in envelopes or taped to pages in a book or file.