Take a look at the two staples along the spine of this newspaper. Imagine the kind of damage these could cause.
Hard to imagine? Not for Mark Schomisch.
"You'd be surprised," says Schomisch, security director at Fox Lake Correctional Institution, which has barred inmate Thomas Reimann from receiving his paid subscription to Isthmus because of these staples.
"We've had people in the past who have taken staples when suicidal or depressed to poke into their skin, rip on their skin," says Schomisch. Staples have even been used in attacks on others.
Tom Dehlinger, Isthmus circulation director, says the paper has had dozens of inmate subscribers since the paper began being stapled in 2006; he's never before heard this raised as a concern. Fox Lake's policy only applies to inmates in segregation, like Reimann, and only to publications, not legal documents; Schomisch thinks there are "probably other institutions" with similar rules.
The administrative code regarding publications in prisons doesn't mention staples but gives officials broad authority regarding security or safety threats. It does require that, when material is not delivered, notice be given to the inmate and publication, which has not happened in Reimann's case.
Schomisch says that's because the intercepted papers are just being held while Reimann is in segregation. "We will give it to him when he goes to the general population." When will that be? "He's out in March."
Looks like he'll have a lot of reading to catch up on. And a lot of staples.