11 February 2020 :
A friend of Hands Off Cain, Daniela Fontana, informs us of changes in a restrictive sense on the death row of Texas.
“For 14 years, I have been writing to a man on death row in Texas, in the Polunsky Unit. Today I read that, from March 1st, not only will it no longer be possible to send postcards, but I will no longer be able to send money or food as I’m not on his visiting list. (Commissary Accounts Only persons on an offender's visitation or OTS call lists may deposit funds or make Ecomm transactions).
I have always tried, when I could, to send him small sums of money through Jpay and to send him food through TDCJ e-comm.
Apparently, I won't be able to do this from March 1st. And like me, other Italian and European pen pal, who write and send money, but do not have the opportunity to go to the States. The lives of many death row inmates will become even worse than it already is. This is where I read the news: https://www.tdcj.texas.gov/news/inspect_2_protect.html
These new rules (TDCJ News - Inspect 2 Protect beginning March 1, 2020) are truly a blow to the heart. Not being able to send cards and greeting cards anymore will reduce the correspondence that prisoners receive, but the most serious change is that many of them will no longer be able to buy stamps to maintain contact with the outside world, being able to count only on the financial support of their visitors. And for many of them, as for my pen pal, it will mean no longer receiving any money. Letters bring life into the cell, and create bonds. But money is needed to buy stamps, envelopes, letter paper. This rule will result in psychological annihilation for those who received letters and small amounts of money from Europe. If you have any suggestions to give me, I am grateful to you. Thank you. Daniela Fontana"
Unfortunately NtC has no suggestions. We periodically record changes in the regulations, some in an improvement sense, more often unfortunately in a restrictive one ... we trust that if there is a solution, the "pen pal" will report it to Daniela, and Daniela will let us know, and we will publish the update.
On the other hand, the isolation that Texas seems to intend to apply to prisoners on death row, making it "economically" difficult to maintain relations with the outside world, is a less severe measure than that already applied for many years to Italian prisoners in regime of 41 bis. This type of Italian prisoner (members of organized crime) can receive money only from the most strict family members in possession of the interview authorization. Also for this reason, for some years Hands Off Cain has joined the battle against the death penalty, that against the excesses of hardness of the 41 bis regime in force in Italy.