File No. 34962

This rule was published in the July 15, 2011, issue (Vol. 2011, No. 14) of the Utah State Bulletin.

Corrections, Administration

Rule R251-705

Inmate Mail Procedures

Notice of Proposed Rule


DAR File No.: 34962
Filed: 06/22/2011 05:55:18 PM


Purpose of the rule or reason for the change:

The changes in this rule update the rule authorization statutory reference. Additionally, it has been many years since this rule was substantially changed. As it refers to specific types of items received and sent via mail by the inmate population, an update was necessary. Other changes clarify processes to expand mail availability for inmates and assist in identifying privileged mail.

Summary of the rule or change:

The amendment updates the rule authorization statutory references to include Section 63G-3-201 and updates reference from Subsection 64-13-17(3) to 64-13-17(4). The amendment also updates outdated technologies and types of mail. For example, it includes computer disks, maps, and calendars. It refers to "audio media" rather than "cassette tapes." It also updates terminology such as cashier's check rather than certified checks. The amendment also makes clarifications for legal purposes. For example, the rule now allows certain catalog purchases, if sent first or second class, if it is religious material, legal material, or educational material. Finally, in order to better legally protect staff, the rule clarifies that incoming privileged mail must be marked as such.

State statutory or constitutional authorization for this rule:

  • Subsection 64-13-17(4)

Anticipated cost or savings to:

the state budget:

There are no costs or savings to the state budget. The changes primarily update and clarify the types of items inmates can receive through the mail. Over time, as technology has changed and types of items mailed to inmates have changed, the department has needed clarify what is covered by this rule. The amendment clarifies the current status of inmate mail, but it does not require additional staff or time in order to implement the changes. Due to recent case law, the department does allow certain types of catalogs (religious or legal). Accepting these items will not and has not increased or decreased workload - therefore there are no costs or savings associated with this change. Finally, clearly marking privileged mail as privileged simply protects staff from inadvertently opening such items. This avoids frustration for the inmates, but it does not lead to cost savings or increased costs.

local governments:

There is no cost impact on local government. In reviewing the amendments associated with the inmate mail rule, there is no involvement in this process from local government. As such, there is no cost impact.

small businesses:

There is no cost impact on small business. In reviewing the proposed amendments, the primary changes are related to clarifications of types of mail inmates can and cannot receive or to updated legal standards surrounding inmate mail. Areas where small businesses are involved in providing mail or materials to inmates via mail are not changed. As such, there are no cost impacts.

persons other than small businesses, businesses, or local governmental entities:

To an extent, inmates may be impacted by the proposed amendments. In some cases, the modifications expand their access to certain items. In other cases, the amendments clarify current standards related to what can and cannot be obtained by inmates. In either case, there is no cost impact on the inmates receiving mail.

Compliance costs for affected persons:

Inmates are the only individuals impacted by the proposed amendments. However, the impacts relate to what they either can or cannot receive through inmate mail. This may expand or retract what they can receive through mail, but it does not create a compliance cost for the inmates - or affected persons.

Comments by the department head on the fiscal impact the rule may have on businesses:

The proposed amendments will not have a fiscal impact on small business. The changes proposed are not financial in nature. Rather, they reflect changes that have occurred over time in terms of what can and cannot be received by an inmate through the mail. Other changes simply reflect current case law which allows inmate access to certain legal and religious materials. Finally, the changes protect staff from inadvertently opening an inmate's privileged mail by requiring such mail to be identified as privileged.

Thomas Patterson, Executive Director

The full text of this rule may be inspected, during regular business hours, at the Division of Administrative Rules, or at:

DRAPER, UT 84020-9549

Direct questions regarding this rule to:

  • Michael Haddon at the above address, by phone at 801-545-5913, by FAX at 801-545-5726, or by Internet E-mail at

Interested persons may present their views on this rule by submitting written comments to the address above no later than 5:00 p.m. on:


This rule may become effective on:


Authorized by:

Thomas Patterson, Executive Director


R251. Corrections, Administration.

R251-705. Inmate Mail Procedures.

R251-705-1. Authority and Purpose.

(1) This rule is authorized by [Subs]Sections 63G-3-201, 64-13-10 and 64-13-17[(3)](4), of the Utah Code, which allows the Department to adopt standards and rules in accordance with its responsibilities.

(2) The purpose of this section is to establish the UDC's policies and procedures for processing mail received in the DIO Mail Unit.


R251-705-2. Definitions.

(1) "Catalog" means a systematized list whose sole purpose is to feature descriptions of items for sale.

(2) "Department" means the Department of Corrections.

(3) "DIO" means Division of Institutional Operations.

(4) "Inspect" means open and examine a letter, correspondence or other material with the primary objective to detect false labeling, contraband, currency, or negotiable instruments.

(5) "[Intra]Inter-department mail" means mail sent between departments within the state.

(6) "Inter-department mail" mean mail sent from office to office within a department.

[(6)](7) "Mail" means written material sent or received by inmates through the United States Postal Service.

[(7)](8) "Money instruments" means currency, coin, personal checks, money orders and [certified]cashier's or non-personal checks.

[(8)](9) "Nuisance contraband" means items that may include, but are not limited to, paper fasteners, hair, ribbons, pins, rubber bands, pressed leaves and/or flowers, promotional gimmicks, gum, stickers, computer disks, maps, calendars, balloons, and other such items having no intrinsic value or not approved by the [D]department [A]administration to be in the possession of the inmates.

[(9)](10) "Privileged mail" means correspondence with a person identified by this chapter relating to the official capacity of that person, which has been properly labeled to claim privileged status.

[(10)](11) "Publisher-only rule" means a rule limiting books, [cassette tapes]audio media, magazines, newspapers, etc. to those sent directly from the publisher, a book or tape club or a licensed book store.[

(a) Publications and tapes] All media shall be new and [tapes]audio shall be factory sealed [with]and the return address should be commercially printed or stamped.

[(11)](12) "Reasonable cause" means information [which]that could prompt a reasonable person to believe or suspect that there is or might be a threat to the safety, security or management of the UDC facility or [which]that could be harmful to persons.

[(12)](13) "UDC" means Utah Department of Corrections.

(14) "USP" means Utah State Prison.


R251-705-3. Standards and Procedures.

It is the policy of the Department that:

(1) inmate mail shall comply with the Constitution and Laws of the United States, the Constitution and Laws of the State of Utah, and the authorized written policies and procedures of the UDC.

(2) inmates shall be permitted to send and receive mail while in custody of the UDC in the manner defined by this rule.

(3) nothing in this rule should be interpreted as creating a greater entitlement for inmates or those with whom they correspond than that currently required by law.

(4) inmate mail regulations shall:

(a) further the legitimate interests of the UDC; while

(b) balancing the UDC's interests with those of the general public and inmates.

(5) mail received for inmates at the [DIO]USP shall be delivered to the [DIO]USP Mail Unit for processing and:

(a) shall be opened and inspected;

(b) may be read at the discretion of the Department;

(c) may be photocopied when such copying is reasonably related to the furtherance of a legitimate Department interest;

(d) may be refused, denied or confiscated where reasonable cause exists to believe the contents may adversely impact the safety, security, order or treatment goals of the Department;

(e) may be used as evidence in criminal, civil or administrative trials or hearings;

(f) is entitled to no expectation of privacy;

(g) all forms of nuisance contraband shall be confiscated and disposed of without notice or opportunity for appeal; and

(h) shall be delivered to inmates without unreasonable delay;

(6) catalog purchases other than through the DIO Commissary catalog are not authorized and catalogs shall not be accepted through the mail , except when sent 1st or 2nd class or from a legal, school, religious or government printing office.

(7) staff-to-inmate mail shall not be sent in "Inter/Intra-department Delivery" envelopes, but in regular mailing envelopes;

(8) outgoing inmate mail and inmate inter/intra-department mail shall be deposited in the housing units' outgoing mail depository, picked up by [DIO]USP Mail Unit staff, and delivered to the [DIO]USP Mail Unit for processing;

(9) an inmate shall not direct nor establish a new business through the mail unless authorized by the Warden of the facility;

(10) an inmate who corresponds concerning a [legitimate]legitimately held business, shall correspond through his attorney or a party holding a power of attorney;

(11) an inmate is not authorized to establish credit transactions through the mail while confined unless authorized by the Warden of the facility;

(12) fund raising by inmates for personal gain is prohibited;

(13) envelopes received by the [DIO]USP Mail Unit displaying threatening, negative gestures or comments, extraneous materials, or grossly offensive sexual comments, shall be confiscated, declared contraband, placed into evidence, and the inmate shall receive disciplinary action;

(14) the publisher-only rule shall govern the receipt of all incoming books, [cassette tapes]audio media, magazines, and newspapers;

(15) certain types of mail are entitled to constitutionally protected confidentiality (or privilege); accordingly, this privilege prohibits qualifying correspondence material from being read without cause by staff;

(16) incoming privileged mail:

(a) shall be inspected, but only in the presence of the inmate addressee;

(b) shall not be perused;

(c) shall not be photocopied; and

(d) may be denied only for reasonable cause and upon instruction of the DIO Director/designee;

(17) outgoing privileged mail:

(a) [may]shall be inspected only [upon]when there is reasonable cause to believe that the correspondence:

(i) contains material which would significantly endanger the security or safety of the Institution; or

(ii) is misrepresented as legal material;

(b) [may]shall only be inspected in the presence of the inmate sender;

(c) shall not be perused;

(d) shall not be photocopied;

(e) may only be denied for a reasonable cause, and upon instruction of the DIO Director /designee; and

(f) from an inmate that cannot be identified, shall be forwarded to the [lieutenant]deputy warden who supervises the mail [room/designee] unit, or his or her designee, who will make a determination of the disposition.

(18) all inmate inter/intra-departmental mail shall be processed through the [DIO]USP Mail Unit;

(19) inmate-to-inmate correspondence shall not be permitted, unless:

(a) there is a compelling justification for an exception;

(b) there is no alternate means of accomplishing that compelling need; and

(c) the inmate s present[s] a minimal risk, according to UDC standards, to security, order and/or safety;

(20) inmates have no entitlement to inmate-to-inmate correspondence created by the constitutions of the United States or the State of Utah;

(21) personal mail written in a language other than English may be delayed for purposes of translation;

(22) the [DIO]USP Mail Unit shall not accept postage-due mail unless payment is waived by the deliverer;

(23) the [DIO]USP Mail Unit shall not accept letters, cards, money instruments, or property items for which there is reasonable cause to believe the items are contaminated, defaced or handled in such a way as to be offensive.

(24) items received that cannot be searched without destruction or alteration (e.g., electronic greeting cards, [padded cards, double faced] multilayered cards, polaroid photographs, etc.) shall be denied and returned to the sender;

(25) inmates are prohibited from receiving currency or personal checks; and

(26) to be identified as incoming privileged mail, the correspondence shall be from an attorney or other sender qualified for privileged correspondence , be properly labeled as claiming privileged status, and have a return address clearly indicating a judicial agency, law firm, individual attorney, or other approved agency or person.


KEY: corrections, prisons

Date of Enactment or Last Substantive Amendment: [October 15, 1997]2011

Notice of Continuation: September 19, 2006

Authorizing, and Implemented or Interpreted Law: 64-13-10; 64-13-17(3)


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For questions regarding the content or application of this rule, please contact Michael Haddon at the above address, by phone at 801-545-5913, by FAX at 801-545-5726, or by Internet E-mail at