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​Mail

In an effort to curb the introduction of drugs into facilities, the Department of Corrections (DOC) has overhauled its system for sending mail to inmates, and the DOC continues to make changes to its mail procedures to maintain the safety of all inmates and staff. This web page is dedicated to keeping the public informed with the most up to date policies and procedures regarding all of our mail procedures.

This page specifically covers how to mail General Incoming Correspondence, Publications, Photo Books, Official Documents, Original Transactional Documentation, and Legal Mail, as well as provides answers to common Miscellaneous questions.

Questions about the DOC’s mail procedures can be emailed to RA-CRMAILPROCEDURES@pa.gov.

​General Incoming Correspondence

All general incoming correspondence needs to be sent to the DOC's third party mail vendor Smart Communications at the address below:

Smart Communications/PA DOC
Inmate Name/Inmate Number
Institution
PO Box 33028
St Petersburg, Florida 33733

General incoming correspondence includes but is not limited to letters, greeting cards, pictures, children's drawings, etc. Essentially it's all correspondence which is NOT legal or privileged correspondence.

All general incoming correspondence sent to an inmate must contain a full return address with a first and last name of the sender. It must also contain the full and correct inmate name and inmate number. Smart Communications cannot process any materials that are bound or open like a book, and all materials they receive which are bound will be rejected. Upon arriving at Smart Communications the mail will be opened and scanned into an electronic document. The electronic document will then be made available to the facility mailroom for printing. The mail will then be printed and delivered to the inmate by the facility mailroom.

All general incoming correspondence sent to Smart Communications will be printed on 8 ½ by 11 paper. For best results the DOC recommends sending mail no larger than 8 ½ by 11.

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General Incoming Correspondence FAQ

What mail will not be processed by Smart Communications?

Smart Communications is unable to process the following mail:

  • Mail which is missing an inmate number
  • Mail which is addressed to DOC staff members
  • Mail which is addressed to JPAY
  • Mail which contains cash, personal checks or money orders
  • Mail which is bound in the center or is in a format which prevents scanning
  • Mail that has been damaged by the United States Postal Services
  • Legal Mail
  • Books, magazines or calendars
  • Mail sent in bulk

What should I do if the vendor will not accept the full Smart Communications address because it is too long?

The DOC accepts abbreviated forms of the Smart Communications address. Smart Communications can be abbreviated to "SC" and the institution name can be removed from address all together.

SC – John Smith/ AB1234
PO Box 33028
St. Petersburg, FL 33733

If the address still does not fit you can leave SC out altogether.

John Smith/ AB1234
PO Box 33028
St. Petersburg, FL 33733

What return address should inmates use on outgoing mail?

Inmates are required to use the Smart Communications address with their name and inmate number as the return address.

Smart Communications/PADOC
Joe Jones/AB1234
SCI Camp Hill
PO Box 33028
St Petersburg FL 33733

When will inmates receive their mail?

It can take 6-8 days for inmates to receive their mail. Smart Communications processes the mail within 24 hours of its reception at their processing center in St. Petersburg, Florida. However, it can take the United States Postal Service 3-5 days to deliver the mail to Smart Communications. A reasonable effort will then be made by the DOC mailrooms to ensure that incoming inmate mail is delivered to the inmate within 48 hours from the time the mail was made available to them from Smart Communications.

This excludes weekends and holidays, mail which contains content requiring review by the IPRC, and mail that is being held for investigative purposes at the prison. 

What does Smart Communications do with the original mail?

All original mail will be retained for a period of 45 days unless otherwise instructed by DOC.  After 45 days, original mail will be destroyed.  

What happens to the electronic copies?

All scanned mail is uploaded to a database that is organized/sorted by inmate.  It is sent to inmates' location six days per week.  When the electronic mail reaches the facility, staff can approve, deny or forward mail.  Approved mail is printed and delivered to inmates.

How long is the electronic mail saved?

Smart Communications maintains electronic copies for 45 days.

What happens if official documents are included in my mail sent to Smart Communications, such as drivers' license, social security cards, checks, court orders with raised seals etc.

Smart Communications will forward all official documents to the SCI business office where the inmate is located.

What happens with photos?

Photos will be scanned and are still subject to review by the Incoming Publication Review Committee.  Photos are limited to 25 photos per mailing.  If a mailing has more than 25 photos, the entire mailing will be rejected.

What type of paper will photos be printed on?

Standard 8 1/2 by 11 copy paper. Photos will be printed in color.

Will photos from outside vendors such as Pre-print or Shutterfly be permitted?

Yes. Photos from outside vendors are permitted. Photo orders from outside vendors are also limited to 25 photos per mailing and all photo orders must be sent to the Smart Communications address.

What should I do if the photo vendor will not accept the full Smart Communications address because it is too long?

The DOC accepts abbreviated forms of the Smart Communications address. Smart Communications can be abbreviated to "SC” and the institution name can be removed from address all together.

SC – John Smith/ AB1234
PO Box 33028
St. Petersburg, FL 33733

Can general incoming correspondence sent to Smart Communications be returned to the sender once its' been processed?

No.  All general incoming correspondence will be destroyed after the 45-day retention unless otherwise instructed by DOC. 

How will the senders of mail know when the mail is delivered?

Senders of mail who register with Smart Communications can receive alerts when mail arrives at Smart Communication and when it is delivered to or rejected by the DOC. 

Will the general incoming correspondence mail procedures delay the parole process?

Green sheets, home plans and other time sensitive matters will not be delayed.

Where can I get more information about Smart Communications?

The Smart Communications website is great resource of information regarding their services.

I sent mail to an inmate through Smart Communications; however, the inmate never received the mail. What should I do?

You should reach out to the DOC mail procedures resource email at RA-CRMAILPROCEDURES@pa.gov. Please provide the following information in your email:

  • The exact address the mail was sent to
  • The return address listed on the envelope
  • The inmate’s full name and inmate number
  • The mail carrier who delivered the mail
  • Did the mail contain photos?
  • Did this mail contain publications or materials which open like a book?

Publications

The DOC requires all publications be sent directly to the DOC's Security Processing Center (SPC), at this mailing address:

SPC - Inmate name, Inmate #
268 Bricker Road
Bellefonte, PA 16823-1667

The SPC processes the following materials:

    • Books
    • Calendars
    • Customizable Calendars
    • Photobooks
    • Magazines
    • Book Catalogues
    • Donated Books
    • Religious Material
    • Donated Printed Religious Material/Items
    • Bulk Religious Material
    • Donated Library Books (Need approval from SCI librarian)
    • Books for Staff
    • Religious Correspondence Course Materials
    • Education Correspondence Course Materials 

Family and friends may only purchase and send publications directly through an original source vendor, which includes publishers, bookstores and online distributors.  All books and magazines must be addressed to the SPC at the above address.

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Publications FAQ

How does the SPC operate?

  • The SPC operates five days a week.
  • DOC security staff will conduct thorough security screenings of all incoming publications.
  • After publications clear the SPC, they will be sent to the mailroom at the prison where the inmate is located. From there, books and magazines will be delivered to inmates.
  • Facilities receiving publications that are addressed to a specific state prison rather than to the SPC will be returned to the sender.
  • Newspapers will not be processed by the SPC. Newspaper subscriptions should continue to be shipped directly to the SCI by the publisher.

How long does it take hte SPC to process a publication?

The Security Processing Center (SPC) operates at a strict 2-3 week turnaround time. This means that all publications which are successfully delivered to the SPC and are addressed correctly will reach the inmate within 2-3 weeks of the date it is delivered to the SPC.

I ordered a book for an inmate and had it shipped to the SPC; however, the inmate has not received the book yet. What should I do?

You should reach out to the DOC mail procedures resource email at RA-CRMAILPROCEDURES@pa.gov. Please provide the following information in your email:

  • The name of the company/organization where the publication was ordered from
  • The full address the books were sent to
  • The name and inmate number of the inmate the books were sent to
  • The total number of missing publications
  • The name of the mail carrier who delivered your order
  • The tracking numbers assigned to your order by the mail carrier

*The DOC is unable to verify a missing publication claim without a tracking number from the mail carrier who delivered the book.

How can inmates purchase books/publications for themselves?

Inmates may order publications through catalogs and brochures sent to the prison by publication companies. Inmates must use the SPC as the shipping address for all books and magazines they order. Inmates with tablets may order eBooks.

Are books available on tablets?

Yes.  More than 8,500 eBooks are available on inmate tablets. The number of eBooks will continue to expand based on input by inmates and the DOC will continue to look for free eBook offerings.  Inmates have purchased over 6,000 books since the eBooks launched in September.

Are inmates limited to the number of book they may receive?

Inmates are not limited to the number of books they may purchase and/or receive; however, inmates are limited to the amount of property they may own at one time. Please resort the ADM 824 Property policy for more information.

Will free or donated books be available?

Yes.  Book donation organizations will process donated books to individual inmates as they have done in the past (prior to the lockdown).  These books will be processed through the SPC.

Are there limitations as to what books an inmate can order?

An inmate can order any book; however, it is still subject to content review by the Incoming Publication Review Committee, and content may not violate DC-ADM 803, "Inmate Mail and Incoming Publications."

Are publications still being reviewed?

Yes. All publications remain subject to review by the IPRC and must comply with the DC-ADM 803.

Photo Books

The DOC now accepts photo books. A photo book is a customizable publication, ordered and delivered through an original/ third party vendor, which contains personal photos. All photo books must be sent to the DOC's Security Processing Center using the address format below:

SPC – Inmate Name/ Inmate Number
268 Bricker Road
Bellefonte, PA 16823-1667

The DOC requires all photo books sent to inmates must be soft cover, contain a maximum of 25 photos (which all comply with the DOC's content policy), and originate directly from an original source/third-party vendor.

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Photo Books FAQ

Where can I order photo books from?

All photo books must be ordered from an original source/third-party vendor which includes but is not limited to publishers, bookstores, and online distributors. Any photo book which does not originate from an original source/third-party vendor may be returned or denied. Individuals interested in purchasing a photo book for an inmate can use their favorite search engine to find a company who offers soft-cover photo books with a maximum of 25 pictures.

What happens to my photo book once it arrives at the Security Processing Center?

All publications, including photo books, are searched for contraband at the Security Processing Center. Once a photo book clears the Security Processing Center it is shipped to the State Correctional mailroom where the inmate is located. At the institution, each photo book will be inspected by the mailroom to ensure the photos comply with DOC policy. Once the book is processed and approved by the mailroom it will be delivered to the inmate.

What happens if I send a photo book with more than 25 photos?

Each photo book is limited to a maximum of 25 photos. Any photo book containing more than 25 photos will be denied by the facility mailroom. Upon this denial if the inmate wishes to appeal they have 15 working days to notify the Facility Manager in writing, in accordance with the DC-ADM 804 policy. If the inmate does not wish to appeal they can forward a cash slip with an addressed envelope to the mailroom within 15 working days from the denial to have the publication mailed out of the facility. Otherwise, the photo book will be destroyed.

Does the DOC accept hard-cover photo books?

No, the DOC requires all photo books be soft-cover. Any hard-cover photo books will be denied by the facility mailroom. Upon this denial if the inmate wishes to appeal they have 15 working days to notify the Facility Manager in writing, in accordance with the DC-ADM 804 policy. If the inmate does not wish to appeal they can forward a cash slip with an addressed envelope to the mailroom within 15 working days from the denial to have the publication mailed out of the facility. Otherwise, the photo book will be destroyed.

What happens if my photo book is denied because of content?

At the facility, each photo book will be inspected to ensure the photos comply with DOC policy – specifically, photographs containing obscenity, explicit sexual material or nudity, as outlined in the policy, are prohibited. If a photo book contains at least one prohibited photo, the entire photo book will be denied. Upon this denial if the inmate wishes to appeal they have 15 working days to notify the Facility Manager in writing, in accordance with the DC-ADM 804. If the inmate does not wish to appeal they can forward a cash slip with an addressed envelope to the mailroom within 15 working days from the denial to have the publication mailed out of the facility. Otherwise, the photobook will be destroyed.

What happens to my photobook if it sent from a home address or unverifiable vendor?

The DOC requires all photo books come directly from an original source/ third party vendor. All photo books which do not originate directly from an original source/third party vendor will be returned to the sender.

Do photos need to be a certain size?

No, they just need to fit within the confines of the photo book and not exceed 25 photos in the book.

How will a Photo Collage in a photo book be counted towards the 25 photo maximum?

Photo collages within photo books will be counted as 1 photo toward the 25 photo maximum.

Who do I contact if a photobook I ordered was never received by the inmate?

You should reach out to the DOC mail procedures resource email at RA-CRMAILPROCEDURES@pa.gov. Please provide the following information in your email:

  • The company/organization where the photo book was ordered from
  • The exact address the photo book was shipped to
  • The full name and inmate number of the person the book was sent to
  • The number of photo books missing
  • The mail carrier who delivered your photo book
  • The tracking number assigned to your photo book by the mail carrier
  • The number pf photographs included in the book

*The DOC is unable to verify a missing photobook claim without a tracking number from the mail carrier who delivered the book.

Official Documents

Official Documents are personal IDs, papers, or credentials which are issued by a government entity or financial institution for a citizen. Official Documents include but are not limited to:

  • Checks
  • Passbooks
  • Birth Certificates
  • Social Security Cards
  • Driver's License
  • Personal Identification Card
  • Alien Registration Cards/Green Cards
  • Welfare Card
  • Medical Card
  • School Diploma

All official documents can be mailed directly to the institution address where the inmate is housed using the address format below:

Attn: Business Office – Inmate name/inmate number
Institution
Address Line #1
City, State Zip Code

Any other forms of general incoming correspondence, like letters, pictures, greeting cards, children's drawings, etc., that are included with an official document sent directly to the institution's business office are prohibited.

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Official Documents FAQ

What happens to my mail containing an official document when it's mailed directly to the institution?

Official documents sent directly to the institution will be transferred to the business office and held on file for the inmate. Department staff will notify the inmate and his/her counselor of the document being held. Any other forms of general incoming correspondence, like letters, pictures, greeting cards, children's drawings, etc., that are included with an official document sent directly to the institution's business office are prohibited. In this situation the official document will be transferred to the business office by the SCI mailroom staff and all other correspondence included in the mailing will be destroyed.

Why are official documents given to the business office?

Per policy, inmates are not permitted to hold official documents in their cells for security reasons. Instead, the business office at each institution holds all inmate's official documents on file for them. When an inmate is released they are given all their official documents before leaving.

Why will the general incoming correspondence included with an official document be destroyed?

All general incoming correspondence, including letters, pictures, greeting cards, children's drawings, etc., must be sent to and processed by Smart Communications.

What happens if I mail an official document to Smart Communications?

Smart Communications will continue to forward all official documents they receive to central office for proper distribution to the institution's business offices.  Any other forms of general incoming correspondence, like letters, pictures, greeting cards, children's drawings etc., that are included with an official document sent to Smart Communications will be forwarded along with the official document to Central office and then to the coordinating SCI's Business office. In this situation the official document will be transferred to the business office by the SCI mailroom staff and all other correspondence included in the mailing will be destroyed.

What happens to this official document mail from Smart Communications once it reaches the institution?

The official document will be transferred to the business office by the SCI mailroom staff and all other correspondence included in the mailing will be confiscated. An unacceptable correspondence form will be issued to the inmate and a copy of the Notice of Unacceptable Correspondence form will be sent to the Security Office at the Facility and the sender of the correspondence. At this time the inmate will be permitted to mail the unacceptable correspondence out of the facility at his/her own expense. If the inmate refuses to pay for the item to be mailed out, Department staff will destroy the confiscated items.  

Can I mail a photo copy of an official document?

Yes, all photo copies of official documents are also held in the business office. You may mail a photo copy of a business document to the institution address starting January 31st or to Smart Communications. When your photo copy is mailed directly to the institution the photo copy of the official document will be transferred to the business office by the SCI mailroom staff and all other correspondence included in the mailing will be destroyed.

What happens if I mail a photo copy of an official document to Smart Communications?

When you mail a photo copy of an official document to Smart Communications they will scan the mail into their electronic system. It will then be printed at the institution by the SCI mailroom staff and transferred to the SCI Business office. All general incoming correspondence included with a photo copy of an official document sent to Smart Communications will also be scanned into the electronic system. It will then be printed at the institution by the SCI mailroom staff and delivered to the inmate.

I have more questions about sending Official Documents to an inmate. Who can I reach out to?

Please email RA-CRMailProcedures@pa.gov  for more information about the DOC's procedures with Official Documents

Original Transactional Documentation

Original Transactional Documentation are documents in which the inmate needs to sign and return the original to the sender (i.e. transferring a vehicle title, etc.) Original Transactional Documentation must be mailed to the attention of the facility Business Office at the institution where the inmate is housed and must identify the inmate by name and number. The Business Office/designee will coordinate a time for the inmate to review, sign the documents if desired and pay the postage to have the document mailed out of the facility.

ATTN: Business Officer – Inmate Name/ Inmate Number
Address Line 1 
Address Line 2

This process is for transactional documentation only; inmates will not be permitted to keep original documentation sent through this process.

I have more questions about sending Original Transactional Documentation to an inmate. Who can I reach out to?

Please email RA-CRMailProcedures@pa.gov  for more information about the DOC's procedures with Original Transactional Documentation.

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Original Transactional Documentation FAQ

I have more questions about sending Original Transactional Documentation to an inmate. Who can I reach out to?

Please email RA-CRMailProcedures@pa.gov  for more information about the DOC's procedures with Original Transactional Documentation. 

Legal Mail/Privileged Correspondence

DOC considers legal mail (otherwise known as Privileged Correspondence) to be any mailing containing a DOC issued Attorney Control Number as well as a secondary authentication number (valid for one week) on the outside of the envelope, or any mail from a court entity.

The DOC requires all envelopes containing privileged correspondence from attorneys contain the following:

a. Full return address with the Law Office name and address;
b. Attorney Control Number; and
c. Secondary authentication number issued for that week

*UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCE SHOULD THE ATTORNEY CONTROL NUMBER AND/OR SECONDARY AUTHENTICATION NUMBER APPEAR ANYWHERE OTHER THAN THE OUTSIDE OF THE ENVELOPE.*

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Legal Mail/Privileged Correspondence FAQ

How do I obtain a DOC Issued Attorney Control Number?

The DOC issues Attorney Control Numbers to Attorneys who represent a DOC inmate. A control number will be issued upon request by completing and returning the Attorney Control Number Request Form. Each request must be associated with a single physical address and email address.

How do I obtain the secondary Authentication Number?

A separate secondary authentication number will be emailed to each Attorney Control Number holder each week. The authentication number will be sent to the email address specified in the Request Form.  Each Saturday at 11:59 P.M., a new secondary authentication number will be issued by the Department of Corrections.  The authentication number provided is valid only for the following week.

I have more questions about the Legal Mail procedures – who should I contact?

Questions can be directed to the Office of Chief Counsel at 717.728.7763 or questions can be forwarded to the following emails:

​Miscellaneous

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Miscellaneous FAQ

Will release clothing be permitted to be sent in?

Yes

How will commutation packets be processed?

Inmates will continue to write to the Board of Pardons and pay the fee for an Application for Commutation.  The application is mailed to the inmate, but it does not need to be an original document.  It will be mailed to Smart Communications for normal processing.

Will inmates continue to receive monthly account transaction statements?

Yes.  Inmate account statements, with all transactions, are printed at the SCI monthly.  They do not come in through the outside mail or a third party.  These statements will continue as usual.

Will there be any changes to the Access packs?

No.

Will pregnant inmates still be allowed to bring pictures back from the hospital of their new baby?

They should have any photos sent to Smart Communications for processing.

Smart Communications
State Correctional Institutes
Security Processing Center
What do they process?
What do they process?
What do they process?
Smart Communications processes all general incoming correspondence
  • Letters
  • Greeting Cards
  • Photos
  • Children's Drawings
  • Unbound Newsletters 
  • Note: bulk mail will not be accepted by Smart Communications

The SCIs process the following materials:
  • Newspaper subscriptions for inmates
  • TV Channel Guides
  • Mail addressed to Staff
  • Legal Mail 
  • Official Documents, which include but are not limited to:
    • Checks
    • Passbooks
    • Deposit Slips
    • Birth Certificates
    • Social Security Cards
    • Driver's License
    • Welfare Card
    • Medical Card
    • School Diplomas

All official documents must be mailed using this format:

Business Office —Inmate Name/Inmate Number
Address Line 1
City, State Zip Code


The Security Processing Center processes the following materials:
  • Books addressed to inmates
  • Photo books addressed to inmates
  • Calendars addressed to inmates
  • Magazines addressed to inmates
  • Donated Books from established book donation companies
  • Religious material addressed to inmates
  • Bulk religious material – need approval from SCI chaplain
  • Religious Correspondence Course materials
  • Donated Religious material – need approval from SCI chaplain
  • Donated Library books – need approval from SCI Librarian
  • Books addressed to staff
  • Education Correspondence Course Material  


What address should I use?
What address should I use?
What address should I use?

Smart Communications/ PADOC
Inmate Name, Inmate Number
P.O. Box 33028
St. Petersburg, FL 33733


Use the SCI mailing address found on the SCI's webpage

Security Processing Center
Inmate Name, Inmate Number
268 Bricker Road
Bellefonte, PA 16823-1667