Over the past five years, dozens of local jails have adopted new policies mandating that personal correspondence to or from the facility take place via postcard.

These policies prevent incarcerated men and women from receiving study materials such as lessons from Crossroad Bible Institute. “It’s unfortunate because the CBI program is so valuable to those who want to make a positive change in their lives,” said CBI advocacy coordinator Nicolette Chambery.

Postcard-only policies are usually implemented as safety measures in county jails where prisoners find increasingly creative ways to smuggle in contraband material. Limited budgets make it difficult for small facilities to allocate staff time to screening incoming mail.

Unfortunately, because family and community ties are critical for a successful reentry, policies that limit access to meaningful communication with the outside world create additional obstacles for citizens who will one day return to the community.

CBI has been largely successful at working with jails to gain access to the facilities. CBI’s good standing as a reputable, established, nationwide prison ministry is usually enough to convince corrections officials to permit program materials. Other times, facilities are willing to allow a chaplain to accept and distribute lessons.

However, the number of postcard-only facilities has been on the rise, and a jail in Carter County, Tennessee, has refused to budge on its mail restrictions. “This is first time we haven’t been able to negotiate a solution with a jail,” said Chambery.

Pray that correctional officials will understand the importance of allowing personalized letters of correspondence and that CBI students will receive uninterrupted access to their discipleship courses.