ACLU and inmates sue Wyandottte County sheriff for right to write

KANSAS CITY, Kan. - Every expression of affection or words of support coming from Mabel Estes to her boyfriend of 17 years has been limited to a 6x9 inch postcard.

"Hectic times, sad times, good times, it's just a lot that you can't put on a post card," Estes said.

It's either that or a 15 minute phone call that will cost her around $6.

She knew keeping in touch with him while he's in jail wouldn't be easy, but she also didn't imagine it would be this complicated.

"You got to do what you got to do," she said.

After seven months of countless postcards, they've decided to write their longest letter yet, a 15-page lawsuit against the sheriff.

They joined one other inmate and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in an attempt to prove the policy goes against their freedom of speech.

"Here, these policies are saving these jails nothing," Josh Glickman said, who is representing Estes with ACLU in the lawsuit. "The only impact these policies are having is preventing these inmates and their families from having meaningful conversations."

We reached out to Sheriff Don Ash; however, he said he can't comment since the suit is ongoing.
County jails in 13 states have a similar postcard policy.

The San Diego Sheriff's Department tells us it's helped them stop 10 drug smuggling attempts through correspondence so far this year.

But when words are the only thing keeping Mabel's relationship intact, those numbers are of little comfort.

"I can write a five page letter and you can imagine writing 5 pages on postcards?" Estes said.

Print this article Back to Top

Comments