Incoming Mail

All incoming mail must be clearly addressed with the IDOC resident's committed name (no nicknames), IDOC number, institution, and housing assignment. Incoming mail that presents no procedural problems will be processed and delivered within 24 hours of receipt, Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. Junk mail such as direct marketing, mass mailings, sales flyers, credit card applications, coupons, etc. will be destroyed.

Incorrectly addressed mail

Incoming mail that is incorrectly addressed will be handled in accordance with the following guidelines. If possible, incorrectly addressed mail will be delivered to the resident with a note indicating the need for address correction. If after being notified, the sender continues to send mail incorrectly addressed, mail will be returned to the sender. Mail will be returned to the sender if a resident refuses to notify senders of his correct address or encourages senders to use an incomplete or incorrect address.

Books, magazines, and newspapers

New and used books are allowed but must be softcover and no larger than 11 inches long, 8 1/2 inches wide, and 3 inches thick. They must come with a receipt or invoice and be sent directly to the resident from the publication's publisher or an IDOC-approved vendor.

Approved vendors are:

  • Edward R. Hamilton
  • Thrift Books
  • Discover Books
  • More than Words
  • Prison Book Program
  • Books a Million
  • Books N Things
  • Sure Shot Books
  • The Women's Prison Book Project

Religious publications - If books are sent in through a religious ministry, the ministry must be listed as the publisher.

At this time, Amazon is not an approved vendor.

Residents may seek approval from their facility's administration to obtain hardback educational, legal, and religious books if softcover versions are not available.

Magazines and newspapers must come directly from their publisher and have a printed delivery label featuring the IDOC resident's name and address.

Publications not meeting these criteria will be returned to the sender.

Contraband and prohibited mail

Any thing--of any kind--that is prohibited by Board, Department, or facility rules, policies, directives, or standard operating procedures. Contraband also includes any thing--of any kind--that a facility head has not approved (1) for possession by an offender or (2) to bring into a facility or onto Department property.

Prohibited items - see Mail Handling in Correctional Facilities: Section 4. Prohibited Items

Prohibited Sexually Explicit and Pornographic Material - see Mail Handling in Correctional Facilities: Section 5. Prohibited Sexually Explicit and Pornographic Material.

Transfers within the IDOC

When an IDOC resident is transferred to a different housing unit or institution, mail will be forwarded for 60 days from the date of transfer. After 60 days, mail will be returned to the sender.

Release from an IDOC correctional facility

IDOC residents are responsible for filing a change of address with the U.S. Post Office and notifying the facility mailroom of their new address before their release from IDOC custody. When a resident is paroled or released from the custody of the IDOC and the address is known, mail will be forwarded for a period of 60 days. After 60 days, incoming mail will be returned to the U.S. Post Office.