C.04 Prisoner incoming emails

  1. Emails to prisoners are managed both to ensure that the Department meets it legal requirements and to restrict the likelihood of illegal activity.
  2. The Department permits prisoners to receive emails from family / whānau and friends.
  3. Unlike mail, email is not an entitlement for prisoners and the sender must agree to the conditions under which the Department will receive and dispatch emails to prisoners.
  4. Emails are not defined as the same as physical mail that is received via the post. This means, that it is not an entitlement for prisoners and the same restrictions do not apply.
  5. Although the same restrictions do not apply, emails are to be given the same consideration as physical mail as far as practicable in the circumstances.
  6. During induction, prisoners should be advised of the opportunity to have emails sent to them and should be give a copy of [C.04.Res.02 Information sheet for prisoners].

C.04.01 Specific rules for emails to prisoners

The following rules apply to all emails addressed to prisoners.

  • The subject line of all emails must contain the prisoner’s full name and PRN number or it will not be delivered.
  • Emails to prisoners who have been released or who reside at a different prison will not be passed on. The email sender will be notified by the prison via email.
  • Emails to prisoners must not be sent with any attachments or inserts. This includes any graphics, photos, games, music files, web links, movies, spreadsheets, Word documents or inserts of any kind. Emails with any attachments and/or inserts will be deleted and not passed on to the prisoner.
  • Emails to prisoners are read by Corrections staff to ensure the security and good order of the prison. If any email to a prisoner contains illegal or objectionable material, it may be sent to the Corrections intelligence team and/or to the Police. The ability for the sender to send further emails in the future may be denied.
  • If the email contains any unsuitable content it must not be passed on to the prisoner. This includes illegal or objectionable material, profane, explicitly sexual or gang-related language and/or anything that threatens the security or good order of the prison or any prisoner.
  • Coded messages must not be passed on.
  • The sender must be informed if their email is not suitable to be passed on to the prisoner. The email ‘owner’ should reply stating why their email will not be passed on to the prisoner and inform the sender that any further breach of the ‘rules’ will result in them being blocked from sending further emails.
  • If the prison receives more than two emails that contain illegal or unsuitable content from the same sender, the sender’s email address should be blocked to prevent them from being able to send any further emails to prisoners. The sender must be notified of this before their email address is blocked.
  • Those who send emails to prisoners must be informed that the ability to email prisoners may be subject to review and can be stopped at any time.
  • To reduce email processing times, those who send emails to prisoners should be advised to only send one email per day wherever possible.
  • Any email received may be translated to English to determine whether the email meets the ‘rules’ as set out above.
  • Sending an email to prisoners via the prison email address means the sender has read, understood and agrees to the rules and conditions as set out above relating to prisoner emails.

C.04.02 Administering emails to prisoners

  1. Each prison has a designated prisoner email address (see Resource [C.04.Res.01 Email address list]) where family / whānau and friends can send emails to be passed on to a prisoner.
  2. Prisoners cannot ‘reply’ directly to the emails, but there may be occasions when the prison staff needs to reply (for example, when a prisoner no longer resides at the prison the email has been sent to).
  3. Each prison has a designated email ‘owner’ (who is the only person who can reply to incoming prisoner emails). In addition, there should be at least two staff who are able to access the email inbox each working day, in order to read all incoming emails, print off those that meet the acceptance criteria (see [C.04.01 Specified rules for emails to prisoners]) the incoming email is then deleted.
  4. If the prisoner has been identified as a named respondent in any Court order which prohibits contact between the applicant and the prisoner, the inward email will not be issued to the prisoner. unless conditions of the Court order specifically allow contact via email.
    1. Staff can access a report for these Mail Monitoring conditions in IOMS > Report Tree > PS National > Mail Monitoring.
      Staff can filter this report by region, prison and unit.
    2. A list of all relevant alerts can be found in the COBRA dashboard.
      This is accessible from the Tatou page “COBRA” in the Key Systems box.
      (Dashboard 3.70 Offender Alerts | Tab CR Alert choose ‘management site’ in the selection criteria.)
  5. For those prisoners who have been identified as requiring mail monitoring by the prison or the National Prison Communications Team, all emails addressed to them must be managed in the same way as mail (see [C.03 Mail Monitoring]).
  6. Each incoming email is automatically replied to (see [C.04.Res.03 Automatic response for Eprisoner email address).
  7. If the prison receives an email for a prisoner who has been transferred or released, the designated email ‘owner’ must reply to the sender to advise them that the prisoner no resides longer at that prison.
  8. The designate email 'owner' cannot advise the email sender if the prisoner has been released or where they may have been transferred to as this could breach the prisoner's privacy.
  9. If the prisoner who has transferred to another prison, they may send family / whānau and friends a new invitation to email them at their new prison's email address..

C.04.03 Reading emails to prisoners

  1. All staff can read emails that are received into the e-prisoner inbox. Unlike prisoner mail, staff do not need to be an authorised reader. This is because email is not defined as mail in the Corrections Act 2004.
  2. Although email is defined differently, it should still be scrutinised in the same way as physical prisoner mail is.
  3. Although the same restrictions do not apply, emails are to be given the same consideration as physical mail as far as practicable in the circumstances, staff members must take the following consideration into account when dealing with any mail to or from a prisoner:
    1. the need to protect the privacy of prisoner and their correspondents
    2. the benefits to prisoners of maintaining contact with persons and organisations outside the prison
    3. the need to maintain the security and order of the prison
    4. the need to prevent the commission of offences
    5. the need to ensure the safety of any person
    6. the need to prevent the entry of unauthorised items into the prison
    7. the interests of victims
    8. the potential impacts of the written material on persons beyond the intended recipient, including the potential for the sharing and publication of the material
    9. the potential for messages to be disseminated through coded references.
  4. For those prisoners who have been identified as requiring mail monitoring by the prison or the National Prison Communications Team, all emails addressed to them must be managed in the same way as their mail (see [C.03 Mail Monitoring]).
    Watch Point

    If the content of the email does not make sense, or staff do not know what it means, then staff should try discussing the content with a colleague.

    A Corrections officer who works on the prisoner’s unit may be able to provide context.

    If staff are unsure of the content, seek a second opinion.

C.04.04 Withholding emails to prisoners

  1. The starting point for all decisions is that the email will not be withheld.
  2. If there are grounds to withhold the email, a decision is required as to whether withholding the mail is a justifiable limitation on a person’s (both the sender and recipients) right to freedom of expression (Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and opinions of any kind in any form).
  3. If the content of an email contains any material that would be withheld or contains the following it can be withheld and not delivered to the prisoner:
    1. Threatens or intimidate any person
    2. Endangers the safety or welfare of any person
    3. Poses a threat to the security and good order of the prisoner
    4. Promotes or encourages the commission of an offence
    5. Prejudice the maintenance of the law
    6. Breaches an order or direction of any court
    7. Promotes or encourage hostility towards any group of persons
    8. Gang language
    9. Coded messages.
  4. If the prison receives an email that is deemed unsuitable to be delivered to the recipient, staff are to reply to the sender stating why their email is unsuitable and that any further breach of the ‘rules’ will result in them being blocked from sending further emails.

The unsuitable email is then deleted from the inbox. There is no requirement to log or record this.