Crime & Courts

Kansas jail’s postcard policy leads to lawsuit

File photo

A federal lawsuit was filed Thursday against the last Kansas county jail that limits inmate personal mail to postcards.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Kansas City against the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office.

The ACLU Foundation of Kansas and the Social Justice Law Collective filed the suit on behalf of people who have family members incarcerated in the jail about 150 miles southwest of Kansas City.

It alleges that the practice of limiting personal mail to postcards is a violation of due process and free speech rights.

“Writing private letters is important to inmates and their friends and families because it allows them to stay connected and to express — at length and in detail — their private concerns about family relationships, health problems and financial issues, among other things,” Doug Bonney, legal director of the ACLU Foundation, said in a statement.

Sheriff Pete Figgins said Thursday that he had not seen the suit and couldn’t comment on it until he did.

But Figgins said he found it a “little upsetting” to be told how to run the correctional facility.

Bonney said some other Kansas sheriff’s offices, including Wyandotte and Johnson counties, adopted the postcard-only policy several years ago.

Wyandotte County changed its policy as part of a settlement in another lawsuit.

Wilson County is the only one that still uses the policy in Kansas, Bonney said.

Tony Rizzo: 816-234-4435, @trizzkc