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Delaware to implement new mail delivery system at Vaughn to eliminate contraband

Sophia Schmidt
Delaware Public Media

The Department of Correction is beefing up mail security at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center.

The new mail delivery process is to eliminate mail contraband going to the facility.

The change is being made to reduce officer, staff, and inmate exposure to potentially harmful contraband, and to avoid restrictions or limits to postal mail service.

The system uses a third-party company, Pigeonly, which will open the non-legal mail and scan it into a digital color copy. The copy is printed and sent to Vaughn.

The originals will be temporarily stored and securely destroyed, and they will not be returned to the sender.

Bureau of Prisons Chief Shane Troxler said DOC will use this one-year pilot program at Vaughn to decide if it will be expanded to other state correctional centers.

“We're going to watch and see if we see a curtail or drop in the amount of illegal substances we find in the facility or within the mail," said Troxler. "We're going to gauge that all through this pilot program, and then if we deem it's worth it and we deem this is the way to go then we may process and go to other facilities as well."

Last year, Vaughn had nearly 100 incoming inmate mail packages intercepted containing suspected or confirmed illicit contraband substances.

Last year nearly 100 inmate mail packages were intercepted for contraband substances or suspected contraband, but Troxler said this move is to combat a different method of delivering contraband.

"So not necessarily we've seen an increase, we’ve just seen a different delivery method, and we want to be proactive in stopping any kind of illegal substances coming into the facility that way," said Troxler.

The program starts on April 4, and all legal mail will continue to be sent directly to Vaughn Correctional Center.

Joe brings over 20 years of experience in news and radio to Delaware Public Media and the All Things Considered host position. He joined DPM in November 2019 as a reporter and fill-in ATC host after six years as a reporter and anchor at commercial radio stations in New Castle and Sussex Counties.