Offender Mail

Beginning Oct. 18, 2021, a private company will process mail sent to all offenders in North Carolina prisons.

The company, TextBehind, works with prisons and jails across the nation. It has been processing mail for North Carolina’s female offender population since February 2020. Facilities that serve the male population will be added to the initiative on Oct. 18, 2021.

TextBehind offers an app for people who are comfortable submitting letters by smartphone or computer and uploading photos to send.

For those who prefer writing on paper, the most obvious change to the process involves a new mailing address. Instead of writing to the offender at their prison, one must address mail to TextBehind’s facility in Maryland in this manner:

Offender Name and Opus Number
Name of Prison (do not abbreviate)
P.O. Box 247
Phoenix, MD 21131

Examples:

John Doe #1234567
Scotland Correctional Institution
P.O. Box 247
Phoenix, MD 21131
Jane Doe #7654321
N.C. Correctional Institution for Women
P.O. Box 247
Phoenix, MD 21131

 Mail not addressed this way will be returned to the sender.

The N.C. Department of Public Safety is making this change to reduce the volume of drugs and other contraband entering prisons. Offenders will receive copies of mail, not the original paper.

Here’s how it works:

  1. All offender mail (paper and electronic) is addressed and delivered to TextBehind.
  2. If it was sent via the company’s app, TextBehind can process it within one business day.
  3. An additional step is involved in processing mail that is sent using the U.S. Postal Service. TextBehind will  use a scanner to make digital files of the contents of the mailing—including cards, photos or artwork.
  4. All digital files are then forwarded to the offender’s assigned prison.
  5. The prison mailroom prints approved pages and delivers them to the offender.

Keeping suspect mail out of prison, yet still providing the contents, should reduce the contraband smuggled into prisons. The result is a safer and more secure prison environment, reducing drug use and risk of overdose. Violence among offenders fighting over the contraband trade should also decline.

The new mail process will also prevent drugs from entering the prisons in the form of paper coated in fentanyl, K2, Suboxone or other dangerous drugs. These are hazardous to breathe or even to touch.

If experience in the women’s prisons is any indication, drugs entering the prisons should be significantly reduced. In the year following use of TextBehind in North Carolina’s four women’s facilities, infractions for drug use and possession dropped by 50 percent.

For more information about TextBehind, including a short video, go to textbehind.com. The website has instructions for downloading the company’s app and setting up a payment account.

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What’s happening with mail sent to offenders in North Carolina prisons?

What’s happening with mail sent to offenders in North Carolina prisons?

  • Beginning Oct. 18, 2021, you will no longer write to offenders at their assigned prison’s address. Instead, you will write to them through a company called TextBehind.
  • You can continue to send paper mail through the postal service, or you can download an app from the TextBehind website to send mail electronically.
What is the new mailing address for offenders?

What is the new mailing address for offenders?

Address envelopes this way, or they will be returned: 

Offender Name and Offender OPUS Number
Name of Prison (do not abbreviate)
P.O. Box 247
Phoenix, MD 21131

 

Examples:

John Doe #1234567
Scotland Correctional Institution
P.O. Box 247
Phoenix, MD 21131
Jane Doe #7654321
N.C. Correctional Institution for Women
P.O. Box 247
Phoenix, MD 21131

 

What happens when mail to an offender goes to TextBehind?

What happens when mail to an offender goes to TextBehind?

  • TextBehind will make copies of the contents — letters, greeting cards, photos, artwork, etc. — with an electronic scanner.
  • The company will forward the scanned images to the prison.
  • The prison mailroom will print out the contents and deliver the pages to the offender.
  • For a fuller explanation, go to the TextBehind website, which features a brief video.
How does the TextBehind app work?

How does the TextBehind app work?

  • When you download the app from the TextBehind website, you can use your computer or smartphone to write to an offender.
  • You can write a letter, select a greeting card or upload your own photos and artwork.
  • Like paper mail, app contents will be forwarded by TextBehind to the prison for printing and delivery.
  • The app is free to download, but there are fees (starting at 49 cents) to send content.
Isn’t this what North Carolina’s prisons for women have been doing since last year?

Isn’t this what North Carolina’s prisons for women have been doing since last year?

Yes. The N.C. Department of Public Safety began testing TextBehind in the four correctional facilities for women in February 2020.

Beginning Oct. 18, 2021, it will expand into the prisons for men.

Why is NCDPS making this change?

Why is NCDPS making this change?

TextBehind is safer, faster and cheaper.

  • NCDPS wants its prisons to be as safe and secure as possible for staff and offenders.
    • One way drugs and other contraband enter prisons is through the mail.
    • Scanning and printing mail will reduce the amount of drugs coming in.
    • We anticipate less drug use, risk of overdose and violence by offenders for control of the drug trade.
    • It will also reduce the risk of accidental contact with dangerous substances.
  • Mail should reach offenders sooner.
    • TextBehind will forward mail sent by app within one business day of receiving it.
    • Mail sent by the app is not subject to postal delivery delays.
    • For paper mail, scanning and printing the contents reduces inspection delays.
  • Fees to send mail by the app (starting at 49 cents) are less than a stamp.
    • Other than postage, there are no fees to send paper mail.
    • NCDPS (and taxpayers) will not pay for anything, not even the paper copies. TextBehind provides the printers and printer maintenance to all 55 prisons.
Why do you have to make copies? A copy of a card or kids’ artwork isn’t the same.

Why do you have to make copies? A copy of a card or kids’ artwork isn’t the same.

  • Offenders will receive mailed contents — including cards, photos and artwork — but not on the original paper.
  • Safety is the main reason. Prison drug smugglers often coat paper with liquid forms of fentanyl, Suboxone, K2, LSD and other deadly drugs.
  • Mailroom staff can accidentally be exposed to the drugs by touching the paper or breathing the fumes.
Can I get the original letters back?

Can I get the original letters back?

  • Within 30 calendar days, the sender can request return of the original letter and contents by contacting customer support: info@textbehind.com.
  • A service fee of $2.50 per letter will cover the costs of return mailing.
  • After 30 calendar days, the originals will be shredded.
  • Caution: Do not send originals of important papers, documents or photos that cannot be replaced.
What mail will not be processed by TextBehind?

What mail will not be processed by TextBehind?

TextBehind will return all packages to the sender. For information on sending packages to offenders, contact the offender's individual prison facility.

Do not include the following items in a letter, or the letter will be returned to sender:

  • books, magazines and newspapers
    • See the package information above.
  • money orders, cash, payment checks or IRS checks
    • For information on using JPay to send money electronically, go to jpay.com or call JPay’s call center at 800-574-5729.
  • passports, social security cards and original birth certificates
    • Only copies of these items will be acceptable.
  • postage stamps, stationery paper, blank envelopes and pre-stamped envelopes
    • Offenders may purchase stamps and mailing items through the prison canteen.
  • credit/debit cards or prepaid cards
  • oversized envelopes (not scannable)
  • pieces of fabric of any kind
  • banners or posters
  • hardware of any type or other metallic items
  • musical cards, electronic devices or components
  • pop-up greeting cards that are not scannable into an image using standard process
  • prescription or non-prescription drugs.
Can legal mail from an attorney be sent through TextBehind?

Can legal mail from an attorney be sent through TextBehind?

No. If you are an attorney or employee of a law firm and must send legal mail to an offender, contact the prison for instructions.