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Changes made to book ordering process for Missouri prisoners

Designed to keep drugs out of Missouri State Prison prisons

The Missouri Department of Corrections says as of Sept. 25, instead of ordering a publication directly from a bona fide distributor, a friend or family member who wants to fund a book/publication purchase for a Missouri state prison inmate will need to add funds equaling the cost of the publication to the incarcerated person’s account.

That person can then order the publication through the purchasing process already in place.

The Process

Family members and friends can add funds to the personal account of someone in a prison through Securus at

An incarcerated person can select a book using the catalogs available in the facility and submit a purchase request through a case manager, generating what’s known as a “green check.” Our offender finance unit then deducts the funds from the purchaser’s account and places the order. Publications are shipped directly from the bona fide distributor, reducing the risk of package tampering.

The Reason

This small change in procedure gives the department the ability to track the origin of each mailed publication and more efficiently keep contraband out of our facilities. Our mail room staff have discovered magazines and books with pages soaked in dangerous — even lethal — drugs or with drugs concealed in the book spines.

A requirement that publications be sent only from a bona fide vendor already was in place. However, facilities receive books and other publications that appear to have been sent directly from a bona fide vendor but actually have been tampered with and then mailed in disguised packaging. In some cases, books have purchased from a vendor, tampered with, and then returned to the vendor to be shipped to a prison. The concealment of toxic substances in publications is not hypothetical; it’s a real problem with real consequences.

The Risk

Dangerous drugs increasingly are available in liquid form, making them difficult to detect. Once inside a facility, these substances can and do cause significant harm not only to the intended user but also to offenders and staff who are unwittingly exposed to them. We are aware that drugs can enter a prison through more than one route, and we work hard to reduce the risk in all areas.

Mailed publications constitute one way the DOC knows drugs get into prisons, and changing the publication ordering process reduces risk while minimizing inconvenience — without interfering with programming, visiting, education, volunteer programs or other important operations.

The willingness of friends, family and advocates to simply take one additional step when funding the purchase of publications for incarcerated people can literally save lives

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