When you know someone personally in jail, whether it is your sister, brother, mother, or father, it’s a tough time for the entire family. What is even tougher is finding out that the jail or prison does not provide all the necessity that you think it does.
This can put a toll on family and friends of the inmate when they are trying to figure out how to send and how much to send when it comes down to money.
But, for starters, it all comes down to that prisons and jails throughout the United States all have different rules when it comes to how often and how much money you can send to an inmate
Have a loved one in jail and need to get money to an inmate? Jails and prisons across the country have different rules about how much and how often you can send, but several services and options are available.
Contact the Jail or Prison First
The first rule of thumb before you even remotely think about sending money to the inmate while they are in jail or prison is to contact the institution.
You will want to get in contact with the institution first to find out any and all restrictions that they may have, and what information you will need to know, such as putting the inmates booking number on the money order, your address, identification, and name.
You will also want to keep in mind that many institutions have an approved list for people who can send money. If that is what your institution does, you will need to find out how to get on the list, so you are authorized to send money.
You will also want to ask the institution what their max limit on the money is that you can send in a single time. Most of the institutions have a max limit between $200 to $300.
Use the Kiosk in the Lobby
Many institutions throughout the United States have kiosks available in the lobby of their facility. This kiosk is a lifesaver. There is no need for stamps, money orders, or any to that nonsense. You will need to know the inmates booking number, name, and date of birth, typically.
The kiosk will take credit card, and debit card payments, and even some will take cash payments as well. It’s a much easier and faster way to deposit money into an inmates account rather than the old traditional ways.
Why Do Inmate’s Need Money?
Many family and friends of inmates don’t quite get why inmates need money. With over 2.4 million people in a prison or jail, that’s a lot of money needed to take care of them. Unfortunately, the inmate population is a growing industry, and it is not a good one.
Whether you are using an automated monthly debit card withdrawal, money orders, credit card transfer, or money transfers, the entire prison money transfer service is NOT free. Despite what you may think, this costs you and the prison money every time you send money to an inmate.
While most institutions will provide incoming inmates with a welcome package. This welcome package typically will consist of their essentials such as a toothbrush, prison uniforms, toothpaste, brush or comb, and bar of soap.
If an inmate wants any other type of toiletries and extra items that we take for granted such as snacks, beverages, lotions, shampoos, conditioners, stationary, candy bars, and the like, inmates will be required to purchase these items from the institution’s commissary or canteen. These are not given to the inmate for free.
What Are the Main Money Vendors?
For starters, each institution has the option to use these vendors if they so choose. You can find the vendor and the correct ways to send money to an inmate in the inmate handbook, which is readily available on the institution’s website. If you cannot find the handbook, you will want to give the institution a call to ask them about the protocol when it comes down to sending money.
However, the main money vendors institutions use can be anything from the following:
- Western Union
- Access Corrections
- Securus Technologies
- EZ Card
However, today, we will take about the most popular vendor, which is JPay.
What is JPay?
JPay is one of the most popular money vendors. It is widely used throughout the United States. It is in at least 35 states as of current.
JPay does not only dabble in money transfers. JPay also offers services such as video visitation, email, along with probation payments to inmates within the United States.
When money is transferred in the United States, it is received and delivered the same day, however, depending on the institution, it could possibly take a bit longer.
When using JPay for the money transfer, the vendor will give you three options you can choose from.
The first option is to log on to the JPay’s official website. You will want to create an account to begin the money transfer. You will be permitted to transfer money using your credit card, debit card, or your bank account.
The second option is to contact JPay over the phone at 1-800-574-5729. You can send money using your credit or debit card.
The third option is you can deposit money into an inmates account in-person at a MoneyGram location. There are over 40,000 locations throughout the United States that will allow you to deposit funds into an inmates account right then and there. If you choose this option, you will need to use the ExpressPayment service. You will need to have your photo identification card with you as well. You can use your debit card, credit card, or cash to fund the account. While the money will be deposited in the account within minutes of the transaction, it may not be available to the inmate until the following day.
Tips to Remember When Using JPay
When using JPay you will need to have the four-digit Receive Code. This four-digit Receive code is the institution’s special code, so the vendor knows where to send the money to.
You will also need to have the inmate’s identification number handy as well. Most of the identification numbers for inmates are eight digits.
Do NOT Send Cash in the Mail
Whatever you do, do NOT send cash in the mail. NO institution will accept cash that comes through the mail. If you send cash in the mail, it will be returned to you, if you have a return address on the envelope.
If you insist on sending any sort of money in the mail, most institutions will accept money orders or cashier checks through the mail. You will need to contact the institution prior to sending them because some institutions have a special place you will need to send it to, which will differ from where you will send inmate mail.