You may remember that last November all Florida state prisons transitioned to an electronic mail delivery format. Unfortunately, more and more states will follow suit. As of last July, the state of Texas has already made the transition.

With this new system, inmates, apart from a few exceptions, are no longer allowed to receive books, magazines, or newsletters. All paper correspondence letters are scanned and emailed to the different institutions. From there the mail is read, approved, and sent electronically to the individual inmates, on their tablets.
Some institutions lend tablets to their inmates. In prisons where they don’t lend tablets, inmates either have their own tablets, or, they can access their mail at a prison kiosk.
The inmates who, as a result of their housing designation or status, are not permitted to access tablets or kiosks services, have their mail scanned, printed, and delivered to them. You can just imagine the heartache it causes the inmates who are no longer able to hold a letter handwritten by their loved ones, or a drawing made by their children, what to speak of not being able to receive a hard copy of Prabhupāda’s books.

If you are interested to read more about this, you will find a number of articles online about the reasons why prisons chose that alternative.

What does it mean for the prison ministry?
With this electronic system, we have to correspond with the inmates through closed prison email systems, such as CorrLinks, JPay, Securus, TextBehind, GettingOut, and more. Different institutions/states will use a different system.

What about books? Books are prohibited in many of these institutions, though some make exceptions for religious material.
What about newsletters? The institutions who use the TextBehind system allow us to upload the newsletter for their inmates.
What are the good news?

Lately, by Kṛṣṇa ’s mercy, more and more chaplains have reached out to receive books for their chapel libraries. And eight chaplains have accepted my offer to monthly receive a stack of back issues of Back to Godhead, totaling, at the moment, 205 copies per month. I expect the demand to increase in the coming months. That’s not counting the 150 BTGs sent to individual inmates each new issue.

The pictures of the boxed books are from three different days this week only. Sometimes I bring the books to the post office myself. Other times, I schedule a pickup and the mailman comes and gets them. It’s pure nectar to see so many books going out! And, of course, each time the mailman gets a prasadam cookie! Book and prasadam distribution at the same time!