Please reach out to us if you have any information to share, or would like to get involved with any of the initiatives or projects.
Overturn the Mail Ban
IDOC Watch understands the mail ban to be a policy which represents both the neo-colonial, anti-social repression of prisoners, as well as the neo-liberal cost-cutting pursuit by facilities and DOCs across the country.
Implemented in April 2017, the ban stated that no mail can be sent into facilities in Indiana, unless they are on white lined paper in white envelopes. This ban was rationalized by the DOC as being in response to “drug trafficking,” (which we know mostly is done by the staff of facilities) despite them keeping no records or data of drug trafficking incidents in the department.
IDOC inmates and supporters are familiar with the notorious "mail ban" instituted last year limiting all incoming correspondence to white lined paper in a white envelope. A torrent of protest and grievance was received by Deputy Commissioner James Basinger who was left to defend his policy on the shaky grounds of limiting narcotics trafficking. Now, a civil suit brought by the Indiana ACLU and two inmates at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility has significantly challenged the IDOC's ability to enforce the ban.
Judge William T. Lawrence of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana has ordered that the IDOC's policy cannot be enforced for the duration of the litigation. The argument came from Mr. Ken Falk of the ACLU who claimed the policy violated inmates First Amendment Rights and served no "legitimate penological function" that could not be achieved with less burdensome means.
The injunction which will take effect 30 days following the September 24th ruling will allow outside supporters to send greeting cards, articles, and other similarly banned materials while the suit is still in the courts
It should be noted that this injunction does not mean that the IDOC will not ultimately prevail and be permitted to reinstate the policy. However, the granting of Mr. Falk's motion is indicative of Judge Lawrence's opinion on the merits of the ACLU's case, as it is the burden of the petitioner to establish a reasonable likelihood that they will prevail in order to be granted an injunction.
Supporters should remain vigilant in opposing the policy and raising awareness of its negative effects to advocates of First Amendment rights and anti-censorship activists.
The IDOC is slowly attempting to phase out contact visitation in their facilities. As with the mail and book ban, contact visits are either outright cancelled or made increasingly restrictive. Administrators regulate the amount of hugs and kisses inmates can give their loved ones while at some facilities no touching is allowed at all. This new creeping policy of non-contact subsidizes companies like Global Tel Link whose electronic tablets are being introduced in order to profit from visitation. The costs are burdensome to inmates and their families and without the ability to actually interact with their loved ones, many people choose not to visit the prisons at all. After meeting significant public and prisoner push back, Indiana State Prison and Pendleton Correctional Facility have had to roll back their bans on contact visitation but the efforts by the IDOC continue.
Abolition Study Sessions
With this project, we invite all people interested in fighting against mass incarceration, the prison-industrial complex, and policing to join us in studying and discussing the theory and history of prison abolition and struggles against the carceral system. We will make copies of the texts we're studying for that session available to people incarcerated in Indiana who work with IDOC Watch, and we'll leave hard copies at Rabble Coffee in Indianapolis to be picked up and read by people on the outside. We'll meet for a discussion of the text, and that discussion will include commentary and questions provided by our incarcerated comrades.