03 January 2020

"Pictures with crayon and marker drawing are not permitted at this facility"

Image cropped for size from the original.  Perhaps someone knows the backstory or the justification for such a policy by immigration control.  I'd be interested.

Addendum:  A hat tip to reader Bob, who found a report from back in 2013 of crayon pictures being forbidden in prisons (because of fears that drugs would be incorporated into crayon wax and licked from the pages by prisoners).   Reader Elagie's suggestion that crayon pictures be photocopied and given to the prisoners seems to be a logical workaround.


  1. Some older articles indicate officials fear the crayon markings could be illicit drugs. Specifically, "Suboxone, a drug used to treat opiate addiction that comes in a thin strip and can be turned into a paste"

    Citation: https://archive.sltrib.com/article.php?id=57053440&itype=CMSID

    1. I was going to offer a similar reply. This is an issue in many prisons and jails around the country. The staff simply does not have the resources to monitor everything that comes into the facility. I had a family member in a local county jail, we were not permitted to send clothes, even directly from Amazon.

  2. Some older articles indicate officials fear the crayon markings could be illicit drugs.

    To a 3 year old? Cruel madness thinly wrapped in bureaucratic language.

    The sad thing is that the assholes - there is no other word for them - that make such rules will never be punished enough for their sadism.

  3. I'd reckon it is more of a cautionaty measure by officials to hinder innocent childrens drawings from life in the facility getting out. Could be potentially sensitive to public opionion

  4. The facility should make clear that a photocopy of a crayon or marker drawing would be acceptable. It would be too cruel to keep parents from seeing their children's drawings without making it clear that this is a workaround.

  5. Of course, it may truly be "fake news." I've seen a few things that are so far out that I'm ready to load up with a few baseball bats and ding some heads...and then I find out it's just a ruse.

    The first time I fell for one (that I recall), was in the late 80's. I was working at Time Customer Service (where we handled magazine subscriptions, etc.), and someone passed around a "memo" that no one could stay in a bathroom stall longer than five minutes, because the door would then automatically open and a picture would be taken and posted. I was outraged! HA! And then someone told me that it was just a joke.

    So, this MIGHT be that.

    However, working at a prison, I learned from a warden that everything they do is largely REACTIVE. That is, it was fine to bring in opened bottled of water...until someone replaced the water with vodka and tried to smuggle it in. We didn't have to take our shoes off to go through the metal detector (if you didn't have an metal in your shoes)...until someone brought drugs in that way.

    So MAYBE there is a reason...assuming, that is, that it's not fake news.

    1. everything they do is largely REACTIVE

      So, you admit it's short-sighted. Working solely reactively without thinking about the consequences is like playing whack-a-mole: short-sighted and ineffective. And careless.

      There is a fundamental problem that prisoners in America are seen as threats, instead of as human beings that are undergoing the punishment of having their freedom taken away. The constant reactive attitude only increases tensions in prisons. There is another was way of doing this. Show some humanity, treat prisoners like people.


      From the link: Taking away someone’s freedom is the punishment; prison itself needn’t be cruel and it shouldn’t be if we want to release good neighbors back into the community.

  6. It is indeed true. It has been the policy for quite some time at many prisons and is a direct reaction to cases of drugs being smuggled into prisons by being mixed with melted crayon wax.

    Like many things when looked at on an individual level, it seems cruel and it feels like there should be a way to make exceptions. Scaled up to reality however the volume of mail being processed into facilities like this makes it impossible to get around.

    Here is just a single news item from 2013 that randomly cam up on Google that will give some perspective:



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