Send and receive mail in prison

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

You cannot hand-deliver any mail or parcels to Northern Territory (NT) correctional centres. You must mail it.

All incoming protected and legal mail is recorded. Cash, cheques or money orders are recorded on the prisoner’s trust account.

You can send up to $200 cash by registered mail. Read more about how to give money and mail to a prisoner.

Under the law, all mail that is sent and received is read and censored, except protected or legal mail and other exemptions. Read the Correctional Services Act 2014.

Read below for information on postal addresses, approved and banned mailed items.

Posting mail

Choose one of the below postal addresses for prisoner mail. You must include the prisoners name.

Darwin Correctional Centre

Prisoner name and IJIS number
Darwin Correctional Centre
PO Box 1066
Howard Springs NT 0835

Alice Springs Correctional Centre

Prisoner name and IJIS number
Alice Springs Correctional Centre
PO Box 56
Alice Springs NT 0870

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Approved mail includes all of the following:

  • letters with no stickers or labels
  • cards with no electronic additions
  • photos no larger than A4 size and not laminated
  • 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 (excluding those from a lawyer)
  • anything glued, taped on or laminated
  • envelopes, pencils, pens, writing paper on pads (except within legal mail)
  • photos larger than A4, photo albums or sexually inappropriate material
  • photos of drawings or tattoos
  • musical cards, or cards with any mechanical inserts
  • pamphlets, books or magazines, except where a prisoner has completed a request form and received approval
  • 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
  • excessive saturation/stains
  • religious materials including articles  – 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
  • social media comments
  • material relating to other prisoners
  • other articles not approved by the general manager.

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

Mail will be withheld or disposed if it:

  • constitutes a threat to national security
  • constitutes a threat to the security and good order of the correctional centre or a prisoner
  • Is illegible or written in code
  • or as specified as a prohibited item in the Correctional Services Act 2014.

All postage costs for personal mail are to be met by the prisoner. Protected and legal mail is not included.

Prisoners can buy paper and pre-paid envelopes or satchels from the prison canteen.

All outgoing mail must be left unsealed by the prisoner to be censored. This does not include protected or legal mail and other exemptions.

The prisoner must clearly write their name and IJIS number on the back flap of the envelope or on the package. If this is not done properly, it may not be sent.

Prisoners can purchase cards from the canteen. They can buy cards for:

  • birthdays
  • Christmas
  • special occasions.

Some prisons have arts and crafts programs where prisoners will be able to create presents for their loved ones.

Craft materials will need to be purchased using the canteen system and paid by the prisoner.

Prisoner property rules apply to gifts being sent into prison. Read the banned items list.

All gifts, including surprise gifts must be unwrapped. If you wrap them, they will be opened for inspection.

Protected or legal mail received by a prisoner will not be opened.

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
  • health practitioner
  • legal practitioner
  • official visitor appointed to the correctional centre.

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

Other exemptions

Other exemptions include mail from:

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

Prisoners do not have access to email or the internet.

You cannot communicate with prisoners using any of the following:

  • email
  • internet
  • online chat
  • social media.

Last updated: 13 March 2020

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