Prisoners are being given photocopies of letters and birthday cards - amid fears the originals are being laced with the zombie drug Spice.
Following a crackdown on the drug at HMP Durham, wardens discovered relatives had put the mind-bending drug on cards and family photos for their loved ones to smoke.
Jail guards are now copying all post at the category B prison - once home to Moors slayer Ian Brady - which is causing anger among cons.
One inmate moaned to lags’ mag Inside Time: “The prison is photocopying all of our mail, supposedly due to one or two people smuggling Spice in this way.
“They are now photocopying photos of our children and families, and if you are lucky enough to be sent a birthday card all you receive is a piece of A4 paper with a picture of the card on it.
“This is like some sort of bad joke.”
The prison service said the new rules were brought in because prisoners at Durham had found ways around all other attempts to stop mail laced with Spice, which can sell for £3,000 an ounce behind bars.
They said a colour photocopier would soon be purchased and that cards would be kept safe and handed to prisoners on release.
A spokesman said: “In order to fully prevent mail being sent in contaminated we had to take drastic action.
“We had to balance up the instances where drugs had been taken and prisoners became violent and disruptive as a result leading to assaults on other prisoners and staff.
“This also caused disruption to the regime of the prison as healthcare staff spent an inordinate amount of time treating those under the influence of these substances as a result. This has also led to debt and bullying for those who end up with an addiction due to it.”
Four prison officers at a women's jail collapsed after breathing in smoke from Spice.
The guards were exposed to the toxic drug after entering a cell and finding the lag smoking a Spice spliff.
The officers complained of erratic heart rates and breathlessness and received medical treatment at HMP Styal, Cheshire.
A source said: "It was traumatic for them. Spice is out of control."
Glyn Travis, from the Prison Officer Association, said: "Fumes from so-called legal highs are very dangerous."
The prison service said it had invested £40m in safety and security to help tackle drug use behind bars.