Keeping in touch with friends and family who are incarcerated can be challenging. Here’s a quick overview to help you get started.
Writing letters to your loved ones in prison is a special and meaningful way to stay connected. Since correctional staff sort through mail and check it, the process of sending mail to a prison is a slow one, but it is still worth the time and effort.
Before you write your letter, call your correctional facility to ask about their rules and regulations for mail, since requirements will vary by each prison. According to an article titled “Sending Books, Letters, and Photos to an Inmate” published by PrisonPro, requirements generally include that you write with a pencil or pen and that you don’t include staples, paper clips, glitter, lipstick, fragrance, or drawings and markings that can be interpreted as secret code.
WHAT TO WRITE
You can include family news and updates and fun details of your life to help maintain your relationship. You can send them prayer requests and ask how you can be praying for them. Remember that anything you write will be read by a third party, so only write about things that you are comfortable sharing with other people.
Sending photos to prisoners helps them to feel even more connected to you. Photos can be sent along with your letter or through a service like Pelipost, a mobile app that allows you to upload and send photos to prisons.
TAKE PHONE CALLS
Talking on the phone is also another way that you can keep in contact with someone in prison. “How to call an inmate the first time” by PrisonPro explains that calls to the prison are not allowed. Instead, you must wait until your loved one makes an outgoing call to you.
To make a call, prisoners can call through either pre-paid phone accounts through third parties, or by collect call. Collect calls can only be made to landline phones.
BUDGET FOR COSTS
Keep in mind that phone calls are expensive, especially if you are a long distance from the prison. Make sure that you know how much it will cost per minute so that you can plan how many calls you can afford to make.
To visit prisoners, you will need to be familiar with your facility’s visitation rules. Dress appropriately by not wearing provocative or revealing clothing or anything similar to prison clothing. Although handshakes, hugs, and appropriate affection are usually allowed, the prison may have a no-touch policy.
To learn more about visitation guidelines visit our resource on how to prepare for a prison visit.
Disclaimer: Please use your discretion if your children want to contact their parent or family member in prison. It may not always be suitable for some families.