Send and receive mail in prison

Prisoners can receive and send approved letters and parcels while serving their sentence.

Records of all prisoner mail is kept on a database and any cash, cheques, money orders or stamps are recorded on the prisoner’s trust account.

Under the law, all mail that is sent and received is read and censored, except protected or legal mail and other exemptions. Read the law.

Approved items that can be sent or received

Approved mail includes all of the following:

  • letters with no stickers or labels
  • cards with no electronic additions
  • photos no larger than A4 size
  • items with prior approval of the general manager, for example, clothes for a court appearance.

Banned items

Banned items include all of the following:

  • stickers, address labels on letters or envelopes
  • anything glued, taped on or laminated
  • envelopes, pencils, pens, writing paper on pads
  • photos larger than A4, photo albums or sexually inappropriate material
  • photos of drawings or tattoos
  • musical cards, or cards with any mechanical inserts
  • cards bigger than A4
  • pamphlets, books or magazines, except when directly purchased from the publisher by the prisoner
  • feathers, dried flowers or jewellery
  • paints, paintings, glitter or equivalent
  • plastic cards, including telephone calling cards or charge cards
  • magnets
  • tapes, CDs or video games
  • lipstick, lip imprints, body fluids or strong scents of perfume
  • religious materials including articles or pamplets – these are available through the Chaplaincy
  • gifts of any kind
  • gang materials or symbols, photos or obscenities
  • downloaded internet material more than five A4 pages
  • any written or printed material more than five A4 pages
  • other articles not approved by the general manager.

If banned items are received, all contents of the package will be returned to the sender.

Ordinary mail

All postage costs are to be met by the prisoner with the exception of those not subject to censorship.

All outgoing mail must be left unsealed by the prisoner to be censored apart from protected or legal mail and other exemptions.

Prisoners can buy paper and envelopes in prison. The cost of postage is deducted from the prisoners trust account. 

The prisoner must clearly write his or her name on the back flap of the envelope.

Protected or legal mail and other exemptions

Protected or legal mail received by a prisoner cannot be opened or read by the correctional officers.

This includes any mail from: 

  • a supreme court judge or local court judge
  • a member of the Legislative Assembly
  • the Ombudsman
  • the Children's Commissioner
  • the Health and Community Services Complaints Commissioner
  • the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner
  • the Information Commissioner
  • the Commissioner for Public Interest Disclosure
  • the Police Commissioner
  • the Director of Public Prosecutions
  • Australian Human Rights Commission
  • Australian Crime Commission.

This also includes mail for an official visitor of a prison or a health practitioner of a prisoner who is their patient.

Other exemptions include mail from the:

  • Northern Territory Correctional Services Commissioner
  • Chairman or secretary of the Parole Board 
  • Chief executive officer of the Department of the Attorney GeJustice
  • High Court of Australia
  • Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
  • Freedom of Information Coordinator.

Last updated: 15 December 2017

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