Justice Delivered: Neither Snow, Nor Heat, Nor DOC Regulations Stops Hearts on a Wire Newsletters

We believe in the Postman’s Creed of tireless service without interruption. So much so that we once again offered our assistance when the local group Hearts on a Wire was having difficulties with their newsletters.

Getting mail to incarcerated recipients is always challenging, but state policy changes made it especially difficult for Hearts on a Wire, a collective organization of transgender people and allies inside and outside of Pennsylvania prisons.

Every quarter the group publishes a newsletter of stories, letters, poems, and art by and for the incarcerated population. Based on their own internal surveys, over a third of the group’s incarcerated members self-disclosed that they were HIV Positive.

For more than a year, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections has required all incoming mail be shipped to a processing facility in Florida, where it is opened, scanned, and photocopied by a private corporation. Pennsylvania inmates then receive a black and white print out of the low-resolution letters or photos, while law enforcement and the private corporation retain ownership of the original mail.

Last October, Hearts on a Wire mailed copies of Issue #26 to more than 230 subscribers, in accordance with the new PA Department of Corrections policy. However, no copies were delivered. According to the mail policy, a noticed of failed delivery should have been sent to Hearts on a Wire and their intended recipients, but no such notice was provided.

The AIDS Law Project has represented Hearts on a Wire in censorship issues previously (see Justice Uncensored 08/01/18). To get to the bottom of the missing newsletter, we quickly sent a letter of inquiry.

In response to our inquiry, a Pennsylvania Department of Corrections representative apologized and agreed to personally oversee the delivery process. Hearts on a Wire then printed a special PA DOC re-issue of their newsletter, and word soon got back from subscribers who had received their deliveries as planned.

We here at the AIDS Law Project are always happy to help justice get sorted out.