The Return Address Controversy
Johnston Explains the Problem

Alcatraz, California         June 15, 1939

To: Director, Bureau of Prisons


I have noticed in going through the mail several letters addressed to the Attorney General complaining about the regulations requiring them to place their names and numbers on outgoing envelopes that they address to their relatives.

In the event that these communications come to your attention, please bear in mind that the requirement is not a special rule for Alcatraz but is strictly in conformity with the rules governing censorship of inmate mail promulgated by the Bureau, applying to all of the United States Penal and Correctional Institutions.

The particular instruction referring to the preparation of inmate envelope is Rule 18, Page 23, as follows:

"The envelope used for outgoing correspondence of inmates should show in the upper left hand corner the return address of the inmate, for instance:

John Henry Smith
Box No. PMB-21833,
Atlanta, Georgia.

He should be cautioned to print by hand or write plainly his name and address in the form indicated."

The complaint of the inmates who write on the subject is that it is embarassing and possibly harmful to their relatives, and that may be so in some instances.

J.A. Johnston