This Ban Isn't Just Unjust, It's Violent

letters in a pile
Zain Murdock
August 16, 2023

As long as anti-Blackness has separated Black families, we have used letter writing to keep the connection alive with loved ones. Think enslavement, Reconstruction, and the Great Migration

But this tradition is in danger.

Texas plans on transitioning from physical letters to mail uploaded digitally to tablets for incarcerated people. The state says this will reduce contraband, a claim statistics don’t support, but here’s why it will be harmful.

Something as simple as holding a handwritten letter from a best friend or a photograph of a child is critical to the health of incarcerated people. While prisons view personal touches like paint and glitter as “unidentified substances,” these are a physical reminder of life on the outside.

We know prisons inflict physical violence, but what about emotional, psychological, and spiritual violence? Human connection is so important that it influences our physical and mental health - and even our life expectancies. Not allowing incarcerated people to have physical mail from their loved ones is violent.

After all, without the human connection our ancestors fought to share, would we even be here today?

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