When inmates are in a prison or a jail, communication tends to be a huge barrier. You cannot pick up the phone and send them a text, call, email, or just ultimately talks to them in real-time.
This can cause friction with many relationships with family members and even close friends. However, that does not mean you cannot still communicate with inmates, even if it is not the way you want it to happen. Inmates can still receive letters, packages, and other mail items as well.
Today, we are going to discuss the general protocol of how you can send letters, care packages, and other items to the facility. But, before we do that, we want to point out that it is always best to call up the facility that your inmate is residing in to find out their mail policy. All facilities may have a different mail policy than the one we go over below. It is always best to contact them to ensure that what you are sending to the facility is within their rules and regulations because you do not want your mail to be returned to you because the inmate cannot receive it.
Why Should You Mail Letters to an Inmate?
Yes, you can send letters to an inmate. This may not seem like much to you whatsoever, but this could make the inmates day or even week for that matter. Depending on the inmate’s prison security level, the inmate can be bound to their cell for a good portion of their day. So, when an inmate receives a letter, it brings up their moral tremendously. It makes them excited to have a piece of you and something to focus on other than their thoughts.
Many inmates that are behind bars cannot wait to get letters from their loved ones on the outside. It is one of the few things many inmates look forward to.
Sadly, getting mail while an inmate is behind bars can be a slow, slow process. Especially when the facility is under lockdown. When a lockdown occurs all outside and inside processes come to a halt until the lockdown is over.
What You Should Not Do When Sending a Letter?
There are so many things you should not do when you are sending a letter to an inmate. If you do these things you can risk your letter being sent back to you since it does not follow the facilities guidelines.
To save yourself from that headache, you will want to refrain from doing anything on the following list.
- Do NOT use paper clips or stapes
- Do NOT use glitter, crayon, stickers, glue, or lipstick
- Do NOT use fragrance or perfume
- Do NOT draw or leave markings that can be misinterpreted as a secret code, gang symbol or the like
You will always want to keep in mind that EVERY and ALL mail coming in and out of the facility will always be checked by the correctional officers before it is sent to the inmate or sent to the person outside of the facility to ensure there is no contraband, plans of escape, or other information.
Watch Out for Scams
One of the biggest things you will need to do while you are sending letters to your loved one while they are behind bars is to watch out for scams. You may have noticed while you were searching online about the prison or jail protocol when it comes to sending inmates letters; about various companies that offer inmate services. This is where the company will claim they can help you contact the inmate in question, or you can send them a simple message through their website.
Do not fall for this scam whatsoever. Why is this a scam you may ask? Inmates, while they are in custody of a prison or a jail, will NEVER have access to the internet EVER. Inmates throughout the United States do not have access to the internet, period.
However, we will state that there are some facilities throughout the United States that allows inmates to have access to instant messaging services, but these services are not so instant as you would think. All messages will be routed through a correctional officer before it is sent to the other person.
But back to the same with these companies. These companies will only print out the note or letter that you typed up, and they will mail it to the facility for you. All while they charge you an obnoxious amount of money to do this. This letter will not arrive at the jail or prison any faster than if you were to do it yourself.
However, it takes the best thing out of getting a letter, since the letter is typed. Inmates cherish letters that are handwritten by their loved ones. It makes them feel that much closer rather than a typed-up letter that any old person can do.
How to Send Photos to Inmates?
If you think inmates just love receiving handwritten letters, you are wrong. Inmates also love receiving photos even more. Opening the letter to find a few photos is a great morale booster for all inmates. They love receiving photos because they can decorate their cell with them, use them as a bookmark, or just carry them in their pocket and look at them throughout the day.
Photos are worth more than 1,000 words. Hands down. Inmates can connect with you more through photos. They can see your new boat, pet, house, vacation, car, and anything else you want to show them. This is allowing them to get a closer look into what you have been doing while they have been sitting behind bars.
They can hear your stories, but for them to see what you have seen makes them even happier. It gives them that inspiration they need to finish out their sentence as strong as they can be.
What to Remember When Sending Photos?
Sending photos are a bit trickier than just sending a letter. There is a lot of things you will need to remember to ensure the inmate can successfully receive the photos that you send.
Here’s everything you need to know when sending photos to an inmate:
- All photos sent cannot be larger than 4”x6”
- All photos should have the inmates full name and their identification number on the back of the photo
- All photos should be free of sexually suggestive material and nudity
- All photos should be free of tattoos, hand gestures
- You can only send an average between 3 to 5 photos at once
- All photos will be seen by a correctional officer prior to the inmate receiving them
Watch Out for Scams
Just like with mailing letters to inmates, there are scams out there that are preying on you here too.
Companies here will let you upload your photos online. They reel you in to think an inmate can log on and see the gallery you have created. This is wrong. The company will print out your photos and sent them to the facility they are staying in. While they are charging you an obnoxious amount, yet again. It is not like it will get to the facility faster either. It takes the same amount of time.
You can easily print out the photos yourself, stick them in an envelope, and mail them off for much cheaper than what these companies will charge you.
How to Send Books, Magazines, and Newspapers to Inmates?
Did you know that inmates in prisons and jails can typically receive books, magazines, and newspapers? No? Well, now you know.
Inmates love when their family or friends send them these items. This really allows them to escape from reality, even if it is for a short while.
Sending books, magazines and newspapers are easier than it sounds. The only real rule is that all these items will need to come directly from the publisher. That may sound like a daunting task, because you may not know what the publisher is.
You are in luck; the easiest way is to head on over to Amazon.com. Amazon will send things from the publisher. If you are unsure or do not want to screw up, you can always send these items from the bookstore as well. They can always send these publications from the publisher as well.
When you are ordering these publications from Amazon, you will want to ensure that you are using USPS when shipping to the inmate’s facility. You will need to put the inmate’s name and their identification number as the recipient. Then in the address line, you will put the facilities address.
You will also want to keep in mind that when you are ordering any of these publications that they all must be NEW and PAPERBACK. You cannot send used or hardback items whatsoever. These items will be rejected and sent back to the sender.
You also cannot send these items from your home either. These items will also be rejected and sent back to the sender. All items must be sent in new, paperback, and from the publisher.
Can I Send a Birthday or Holiday Card to an Inmate?
This question is always being asked frequently. The answer to this question is yes. Yes, you can send a birthday or holiday card to an inmate. However, it will need to be a standard card. It cannot be a singing card or even a popup card. The card cannot have any nudity or any other sexual content. The card cannot have glitter or stickers either. It ultimately needs to be a standard plain card.
Can I Send a Care Package to an Inmate?
As for sending a care package, that is completely up to the facility in which your inmate is in. You will need to contact the facility directly or refer to the handbook to find out this information.
Some facilities use third-party vendors where you can ship a care package from, while other facilities may let you send items from home.
Before you start thinking about sending a care package, it is vital to contact the facility to see their rules and regulations when it comes down to care packages.