NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Starting February 1, all personal mail addressed to inmates in state-run prisons will be rerouted to an inspection facility in Tampa, Florida. It’s all an effort to stop drugs from getting inside prisons and to the inmates.

“All personal mail is going to be sent to an address in Florida. It’s going to go through a processing center there, it’s going to be scanned into our prison facilities here in New Mexico, our state facilities and then delivered to our inmates,” said New Mexico Corrections Department spokesperson, Eric Harrison.

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Harrison says, over the last few months they’ve seen an increase in the mail sent to inmates laced with synthetic marijuana, known as “spice” as well as fentanyl and other drugs. He says correctional prison staff has always gone through the mail, but lately the facilities just don’t have the manpower to handle it all. With the implemented change, correctional officers can focus more on where they’re needed the most to deal with the actual inmates.

Harrison assures the new guidelines will not impact privileged mail for inmates, which includes legal, financial or medical information. He says inmates will still be able to receive religious or educational items and this does not affect how inmates will send out mail either. Still, the ACLU is speaking out about the change — investigating if this is actually legal.

“It violates people’s basic humanity. Many restrictive policies are ushered in the name of safety and security in really they serve only to continue to dehumanize people which does not make prison and the communities people return to safe, said ACLU Legal Fellow, Denali Wilson.

According to Harrison, the monthly cost for the new policy will be $3.50 per inmate, per month which is estimated to be more than $160,000 a year depending on the inmate population. Those expenses will be covered by the New Mexico Corrections Department’s budget. Inmate mail at the two privately-operated prison facilities in Lea and Otero counties will not go through the same process and will continue to receive personal mail. However, the state corrections department is working to get them on board.