Northern Ireland

Keeping in touch with the outside world behind bars

Email a prisoner poster

Prisoners at Maghaberry can now receive letters by email, via a new scheme launched on Tuesday.

Until now, prisoners at Maghaberry have received all their external correspondence in the form of traditional post.

'' means they can now get letters from relatives, friends, legal advisers and others by secure email sent to the prison.

Emails are checked before they are passed onto prisoners.

Prisoners who want to use the service must log onto the website and register as a user before they can begin to send emails.

Governor Jim McFarlane said: "The new scheme will provide a quicker and more secure service than post, and all at a cost to the sender of only 25p per message.

"There is no cost to the prison - the scheme provides a supply of paper, envelopes and even printer cartridges," he said.

"It's already operating in over 80 prisons in Great Britain, and has proved popular and successful.

'Convenient service'

"Regular correspondence helps maintain a prisoner's contacts with family and friends, which in turn helps rehabilitation and reduces the likelihood of re-offending post release.

"There are benefits to both sides: the senders will get a quicker, cheaper and more convenient service, while prison staff will have less mail to security check."

The scheme organisers send messages on a daily basis to the prison in one encrypted PDF file.

The emails are then security-checked, printed, enveloped and passed on to the prisoner.

The Prison Service said it did not "rule out" rolling the service out to other jails in Northern Ireland.

Maghaberry jail houses sentenced and remand prisoners, in both separated and integrated conditions.