Writing to an Inmate

How Can You Write an Inmate?

One main concern for people on the inside and outside of jail is communication. How will you stay in contact with friends and families? How will they be able to stay in contact with you? Is there going to be a time with no contact or minimal contact?

We totally understand that communication is a HUGE part of your day. Whether it is through letters, packages, and emails.

Letters to Inmates

To us on the outside mailing letters is a pain. It is a thing of the past. It is a chore because you must get stamps, envelopes, and paper.

While on the other hand, people think writing letters is more personable and even has a romantic touch.

But when you are locked up and have nothing essentially getting a letter can be the highlight of your day or even week. Inmates are always excited to receive letters from their loved ones. It is exactly what they need. They can escape reality, even if it is just for a little bit.

Unfortunately, in prison getting mail is not always the fastest process. If the prison is on lockdown for any reason, mail deliveries are halted until the lockdown time is up.

However, when sending letters to an inmate, there are certain things you need to NOT do. We have compiled a list of everything you should not do when sending a letter.

  • No Staples
  • No Paper Clips
  • No Marker use
  • No Crayon use
  • No Glitter
  • No Stickers
  • No Lipstick
  • No Perfume
  • No Drawings (they could be interpreted as secret code)
  • Do not put anything in the letter that you would not mind having someone else read.

Before an inmate gets the letter, prison staff will go through each letter to make sure they do not contain any of the above items. If they do, the letter will be discarded. You do not want to happen, so make sure you follow the information above closely to ensure when you are writing an inmate your letter will get to them.

Rip Off Alert

Now, one thing we have seen circulate around the internet recently is these companies that say you can contact your inmate online and send them a personalized message using their website.

Let’s be real for a second, inmates do NOT have access to the internet. They cannot log on to a computer and access Google, Facebook, or any of the sites that you and I can easily.

So, these sites that say you can send them a message through their website; how will they be able to check it, if they do not have access to the internet?

What they do not tell you is these companies print out your typed letter. And they charge you about triple of the price for you to do it yourself. Not to mention, how it can take just as long for it to arrive at the prison.

Essentially, it’s a rip-off. It takes the fun out of the personalization of the letter. It costs more than you would spend doing it yourself, and it will take much longer going through a company.

We note that it is not worth it, so do not fall into that trap.

Sending Photos

Letters are not the only thing inmates love to receive. They love to get photos. Just like you. You love getting photos of your nieces and nephews that you do not get to see as often. They love the same thing.

In majority of prisons, they will let inmates hang up the photos in their cell, carry them around, or use them as bookmarks. It is a great little inspiration and reminder that they have something to look forward to when they get on the outside.

Even sending them photos of the scenery outside is nice and refreshing. It is something different. It is something that they do not get to experience.

When sending photos, you will need to keep these things in mind to ensure your photos will get to your inmate.

  • Photos cannot be bigger than 4” by 6”
  • Print name and inmates ID on the back of the photo
  • No sexually suggestive photos
  • No hand gestures
  • No tattoos
  • Send only 5 photos in one envelope
  • Keep in mind that prison staff will be looking at these photos too

Rip Off Alert

Photos is another service that companies are now exploiting. Many companies will let you upload your photos, print them, and finally forward them to your inmate.

However, the fees with these services are insane. The cost to do this is sometimes ten times the amount than doing it yourself. It is surely not saving any money. Saving time? That could be debatable.

It honestly is not worth it when you can print out your own photos at home. If you do not own a printer, or do not want to purchase the photo paper, you can go to stores like Walgreens and print them out there. It is super easy and cost-effective.

Sending Magazines, Books, and Newspaper

What you may not realize prisoners have a lot of time on their hands. It is very similar to when you were younger when your parents would send you to your room, and the only thing you could do is sit on your bed. That is exactly how prison is like. Sitting around counting down the time until you can get out.

One thing that can really pass by the time is getting books, magazines, and newspapers. This can bring hours upon hours of enjoyment. This is pure gold to them. Stuff that they can really focus their brain on longer than anything.

Of course, then the age-old question is how can I send this stuff to them, huh? All prisons allow books, magazines, and newspapers, but on one condition. The only condition is you must have the publisher sent to them.

Now, this sounds a lot harder than it really is. You can find the publishers right on Amazon. Order through them there and have it sent to the prison. It is literally as easy as that.

In order to send inmate magazines and sending books to inmates, they must come new. They cannot be used. They also must be paperback too. No hardcover books. If they come hardcover, they will be disposed of. If they are used, they will be disposed of. If they are not from the publisher, they will be disposed of.

When ordering from Amazon, all you really need to do is make sure that they ship by USPS. You will need to address it to your inmates first and last name along with their ID number along with their shipping address.

Here is an example of what it should look like.

John Doe, 12345
Prison Name
P.O. Box 100
Any Town, New York 12345-1234

Here are some tips that you should always keep in the back of your mind when you are sending magazines, books, and newspapers.

  • No more than 3 books at a time
  • Must be new
  • Must be paperback
  • Needs to ship USPS
  • Mail using the correct form (see above)

Sending Greeting Cards

Another thing you can send are greeting cards too. So, break out those holidays, birthday, and just because cards!

However, of course, they cannot be sexually suggestive, that can’t be pop-up, no glitter, or stickers either. They can only be plain old cards, but nonetheless, something else that will cheer them up. Especially around the holidays and their birthdays.


Inmates serving their time out in a federal prison will have the ability to use Trust Fund Limited Inmate Computer System also known as TRULINCS for short. TRULINCS is a computer system that will allow prisoners to email their contacts on their approved list.

The TRULINCS is easy to navigate. Inmates will have access to these kiosks in their housing units. Those on the outside of prison will have to go to Corrlinks.com to be able to email an inmate for free.

What is Corrlinks? Is it Email?

Us on the outside of prison think email is like Gmail, where we can send our electronic messages to each other using that service. However, Corrlinks is not how that works. Inmates do not necessarily have their own email address.

When an inmate adds you to their approved contact list, TRULINCS will send you an auto email with instructions how to set up your very own Corrlinks accounts.

This account is free. You can send inmates emails for free. You can receive and send messages for free.

Corrlinks does have a Corrlinks app that you can use on your mobile phone. It will make sending and receiving messages quicker!

How Much Does It Cost for Inmates?

Of course, that is a big question. What is the fee associated with it for inmates? The price will ultimately depend on the contract they have with the company.

If they are in federal prison, their contract is $0.05 per minute the inmate is in the system. The inmates are only billed for the time they are inside the system. They are not billed when the receiver is drafting a message or reading their messages.

This can start to become very costly way to contact a prisoner. You will have to decide if the cost is worth it or not.

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