Tattoos Violate Policy, Except on Staff
Today my question was answered, when I received a rejected letter from MSP that I had spent a whole day on for my husband. I have known for over a week that something in that letter was “offensive” to the mailroom and would be rejected, but for the life of me, I could not figure what it would have been. The answer: A feather on my wrist.
“REJECTED. VIOLATES POLICY” it read, with a hand written note that said, “Tattoo Photo.” I thought to myself, how could a tattoo of a feather on my wrist violate policy when nearly every guard I have encountered at MSP has visible tattoos, not to mention tongue piercings, ear lobe stretches, etc? So I called the prison to inquire.
To my surprise I was told that if I don’t want my letters rejected, then don’t send photos. I was told if I don’t want trouble, then don’t start trouble. I was told tattooing is a health hazard at MSP and they are trying to discourage the practice and since the guards are not getting “prison tats” then it is alright for them to expose theirs. But I was graciously informed that I may show my husband my wrist the next time I come to visit. (That is if I can make it for another visit before they find a way to eliminate visitations too.)
So, let’s break it down… MSP staff may feel free to expose their tats, tongue rings, etc… but when it comes to sharing a photo of a tattoo by a loved one, even a feather on the wrist, this crosses the line! It seems to me that if they were truly trying to discourage tattooing at MSP then they would obviously start with setting the example and requiring staff to cover theirs while on the job—same being said about drugs, tobacco, alcohol and any other taboo on the property.
When I come for a visit I do not expect to see the check point guard downing a 5th of whiskey while smoking a cigar. I expect that officer to conduct himself/herself professionally and according to the policies set forth by the facility. If they cannot practice what they preach in this case perhaps they should look toward other solutions such as opening an inmate tattoo shop. This would eliminate all health and safety concerns, create jobs and show equality in policy.
But MSP is not seem to be interested in setting the example or regulating the issue with solutions that would eliminate health and safety risks or create jobs or show equality. They only seem to be interested in adding to the list of excuses to reject an inmate’s mail and cause more friction with the public. This is not the mission of a true correctional facility. This is the mission of a dictatorship with no accountability to anyone for unethical practices… something MSP has become notorious for.
I ask myself why any “correctional facility” would want to unnecessarily and unjustly obstruct family correspondence, instead of supporting these relationships and realizing the value we have in the rehabilitation process. Based on my collective experiences throughout the last three years, I have only come to one conclusion. It seems to me that by interfering in family relations with any excuse they can come up with, they will eventually reduce the number of people who are actively involved in prison matters. Because, people that are actively involved, together, can make change! Together we can keep them honest!
If I am wrong, then MSP will be addressing this matter by either mandating all staff to comply with example setting behavior or address the issue by opening a tattoo shop where health and safety issues will be handled by OSHA standards.
- Thank you for the letter that does bring up many questions. It surely does seem like double standards but there are many of those that we have found. It seems there would be a little more professionalism expected from the staff but yet again you wouldn’t expect many of the issues that are going on there. Sorry to hear that your mail was rejected and you were told not to send photo’s. Hang in there.