Pa. prison system sued over new inmate mail policy

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Two federal lawsuits challenge new procedures for handling mail to inmates from lawyers in Pennsylvania's state prisons imposed after dozens of employees sought medical help for suspected exposure to synthetic marijuana.

The ACLU and other groups sued Corrections Department executives Tuesday, arguing the policy "disregards the privileged nature of attorney-client communications" and compromises confidentiality.

Prison workers open and copy legal mail in the inmate recipients' presence and provide photocopies.

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The agency keeps originals for 45 days. The policy is among changes designed to stem smuggling that officials blame on paper soaked with the clear, odorless chemical.

One lawsuit calls the policy "an exaggerated, irrational response to a non-problem." The other was filed by an inmate.

Corrections officials say the lawsuits are under review but they're confident the policy is legal.