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 privileged mail and other exemption. Read the law.

Approved items that can be sent or received

Approved mail includes all of the following:

  • letters with no stickers
  • cards with no electronic additions
  • photos no larger than A4 size
  • approved educational material
  • approved publications that don’t show pornographic or extreme violence
  • items with prior approval of the Superintendent, for example, clothes for a court appearance.

Banned items

Banned items include all of the following:

  • illegal items or substances
  • weapons or cellular devices
  • food
  • photos larger than A4, photo albums or sexually inappropriate materials
  • stickers, address labels or anything glued, taped or laminated onto the package
  • envelopes, pencils, pens, note pads or other writing materials
  • photos of tattoos
  • musical cards, or cards with any mechanical insert
  • cards bigger than A4
  • pamphlets, books or magazines, except when directly purchased from the publisher by the prisoner
  • feathers, dried flowers or jewellery
  • plastic cards, including telephone calling 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 service at each correctional centre
  • gang materials or symbols, photos or obscenities
  • printed internet materials in excess of five A4 pages
  • any written or printed materials in excess of five A4 pages.

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

Ordinary mail

Prisoners may send one standard letter a week at the expense of the Department of Correctional Services. All other 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, with the except of privileged mail and other exemptions.

Prisoners can buy paper and envelopes in prison. The cost of postage is deducted from the prisoners trust account. Stamps cannot be provided or accepted from visitors.

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

Privileged mail and other exemptions

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

This includes any mail from:

  • the Minister for Correctional Services
  • the Ombudsman, either from the Northern Territory or Australian Government
  • the Commissioner of the Northern Territory Department of Correctional Services
  • the prisoner’s legal representative.

Other exemptions include mail from the:

  • Attorney-General, either from the Northern Territory or federal government
  • Chairman or Secretary of the Parole Board
  • Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Justice
  • Anti-Discrimination Commissioner
  • Human Rights Commission
  • Health and Community Service Complaints Commission
  • Office for the Commissioner for Public Interest Disclosure
  • High Court of Australia
  • Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
  • Freedom of Information Coordinator.

Last updated: 27 June 2017