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Suit Filed Over New Hampshire DOC’s Restrictive Mail Policy

On December 18, 2015, the American Civil Liberties Union and the law firm of Bernstein, Shur, Sawyer and Nelson, P.A. filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of a three-year-old child and his grandmother, claiming that the New Hampshire Department of Corrections’ (NHDOC) mail policy was overly-restrictive and unconstitutional.

The case stemmed from the grandmother’s attempt to mail a Thanksgiving card and drawing the child had made to his father, who is incarcerated at the Concord State Prison for Men.

The NHDOC’s mail policy was implemented on May 1, 2015 in an attempt to curb the introduction of Suboxone and similar drugs into the facility. The policy prohibits prisoners from receiving greeting cards, picture postcards and drawings, which the suit argues is a violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

“With this sweeping policy, the state has eliminated one of the few ways young children can communicate with parents who are in prison,” said Gilles Bissonnette, Legal Director of the state ACLU chapter. “This is not only cruel, but also counterproductive for New Hampshire’s over 2,300 prisoners and their families waiting for them to come home. Maintaining family bonds is critical for prisoners to successfully reintegrate into society upon release.”

The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages to be determined by a jury, declaratory judgment, a permanent injunction against enforcement of the mail policy, and attorney fees and costs. The case remains pending. See: Y.F. v. Wrenn, U.S.D.C. (D. N.H.), Case No. 1:15-cv-00510-PB.

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Related legal case

Y.F. v. Wrenn