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Jun 2, 2015 4:06 PM

NH1 News Investigates Return To Sender: Getting drugs out of NH prisons


CONCORD - Prison officials finding more and more drugs inside N.H. prisons.

The latest move to get drugs out of the state's prisons?

Prison officials are banning inmates from getting greeting cards and art work.

Prisoners used to get those in the mail all the time.

Carol Laliberte, a Concord native who said she is proud of all her six of her kids.

But some of them, she said, have had their run-ins with the law.

"I think it's a good idea," she said, referring to the new state regulation.

Just last month, N.H. Prison officials laid down the law and are working harder than ever to stop the smuggling of powerful Suboxone which gives someone in recovery a slight high.

It's used to wean someone off of heroin.

The Suboxone strips are so small, though, prison officials say they could easily fit into the cards and the art work.

"We're always looking for ways to decrease the introduction of contraband into the prison," said Jeffrey Lyons of the New Hampshire Department of Corrections.

Chris Dornin works for a non-profit organization, Citizens for Criminal Justice reform, designed to help criminals get their lives together.

He said there are other ways to do this.

"We think a drug-sniffing dog smelling the mail would pick up any problems," he said. "If the stuff is still getting in there, we have to take whatever measures we have to to stop it from happening."

But Dornin said, it takes away some of the prisoners' First Amendment rights.

"A child who puts together a card in first grade and wants to send it to his dad," he said, "that's precious to someone who's on the inside. We don't think this is taking away a right from the prisoner. They're still allowed to receive mail."

He said he does, however, see why this regulation works.

"I think the intent is certainly to make it safer. I think the question is, how many drugs are they interdicting?"

Carole Laliberte, though, said her bottom line is all or nothing.

"Whatever you're going to do on a card, you can do on a piece of paper," she said.

Prison officials have already banned envelopes because Suboxone has been found under the envelope stamps and envelope flaps.

So now it's a plain piece of paper.

We reached out to the ACLU.

They had no comment.


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