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A ban on sending the very best

Passing contraband of all forms into a prison from the outside world is nothing new. Old movies revealed the tried and true tactic of baking a cake with a file in it to aid an escape.
Indiana offenders looking to get their hands on narcotics have employed creative means.

More modern methods saw hollowed-out heads of lettuce and tennis balls become common conveyances for drug distribution. However, those orbs are being replaced by a more sophisticated, almost high-tech approach.

Greeting cards. Regardless of the holiday or commemoration, mailed cards laced with K2, a synthetic drug that can be smoked, have found their way into almost every Indiana prison.

Not quite what Hallmark had in mind when they encouraged their customers to send "the very best."

K2 is a combination of chemicals. Applying it to tobacco, potpourri or paper turns it into a synthetic cannabinoid. The soaked paper can then be torn apart and smoked, sometimes turning users aggressive and violent

The narcotic is nearly impossible to detect. Using drug-sniffing dogs is ineffective as is drug testing. The smallest tweak to the chemical makeup can prevent K2 from registering. However, lab analysis could result in adjustments that make testing possible in the future.

For now, state prisons have placed a ban on cards for birthdays, Christmas and other holidays. Any type of white or colored paper, including photocopies, is no longer permissible. Legal mail sent to inmates is not affected, but can only be lined white paper with white envelopes.

The prohibition may be temporary. Prison officials are looking for ways to keep K2 out of their facilities without restricting mail that many consider lifelines for prisoners. One option being explored involves scanning all mail and delivering printed copies to offenders. A less cost-prohibitive alternative involves sending electronic copies to facility kiosks or individual tablets.

Albeit without the personal touch.

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