Can Inmates Use the Internet? Find Out With DoNotPay
Inmates need to be connected to the world outside, and so far, the only ways of maintaining that contact have been by visiting them, having phone conversations, or writing them letters and costly electronic messages.
The digital age comes with many perks people usually take for granted, such as online education or communication. Internet access may be a human right for free people, but does it extend to prison inmates?
Can Prisoners Use the Internet?
Whether it is a federal, state, or county prison, inmates housed in any of those facilities generally do not have internet access.
Prisons across the U.S. have enabled communications via closely monitored electronic messages between inmates and the general public, but prisoners cannot access the internet and surf.
Though groups are advocating for the right of some inmates to have internet access for the sake of education, reporting prison irregularities, court appeals, and contact with the world outside, authorities have concerns about its implications. Some of the most common ones include the possibility to use the internet to threaten or harass victims and witnesses, import contraband into facilities, or commit online crimes.
Electronic Communications in U.S. Prisons
Many federal, state, and local prisons have introduced electronic communication systems with closed networks. The aim is to facilitate inmates’ connections with family and friends, easier integration into society upon release, and reduced recidivism.
Inmates can communicate with their loved ones via email only through facility-contracted systems, and only if they have official approval from the prison authorities and prospective message recipients.
Some of the most prevalent systems in the U.S prisons include:
Inmates housed in facilities operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) can exchange electronic messages via the Trust Fund Limited Inmate Computer System (TRULINCS) operated by CorrLinks. The system is connected to the CorrLinks website, where community members can set up their accounts to communicate with prison inmates.
Inmates have to initiate contact with their prospective recipients by adding their email address to the approved contact list. A system-generated email is sent to the prospective contact, informing them that the inmate has requested contact and instructing them on how to activate their account.
Once the account has been activated, both parties can send and receive messages. Inmates can exchange messages through TRULINCS computer consoles, whereas community members must log in to their CorrLinks accounts to send or check their mail. No inmate email will be delivered to their regular email address.
Besides its advantages, TRULINCS comes with certain limitations, including:
- Allowed timing—in most cases, inmates can only access the system for 30 minutes or an hour, after which they have to log off for about 30 minutes before resuming it
- Plain emails—texts are black and limited to about 13,000 characters, and no media or attachments are supported
- Delayed inbound and outbound messages—there is a delivery delay for about an hour, allowing prison staff to monitor emails in real-time
- Cost—inmates are charged for reading and sending messages per minute, whereas community members can either use it for free or for a fee, depending on the contract that individual prison facilities have with the system provider
As messages are closely monitored, abusing the TRULINCS Public Messaging system can result in disciplinary action.
Depending on the facility inmates are housed in, they can send and receive emails, print them, exchange photos or VideoGrams attached to the messages. But, they don’t have internet access.
JPay also comes with limitations, such as:
- Individuals receiving mail within 48 hours
- The length of messages limited to 6,000 characters per Stamp
- The price per message is too high for inmates’ income
- Inmates cannot send free and confidential emails to their attorneys
Owned by Global Tel Link (GTL), ConnectNetwork provides messaging services to inmates and their families or friends. That said, not all prison facilities with this system have the same services. Some allow only one-way messaging, whereas others support two-way messaging. Select facilities allow exchanging videos or photos as well.
The limitations of this service include:
- High price per message
- Delivery time varies
- Use of features, like sending videos, depends on the facility
This system operates without inmates needing internet access.
To read about the GTL inmate phone calls, click on the hyperlink.
Can You Have a Computer in Prison?
Though inmates cannot have personal computers in most prisons, they usually have access to computers in education classes, library, dayroom, or another common area. The number and quality of these PCs vary by facility and location.
Computers enable inmates to purchase commissary goods, phone time, or stamps, as well as send and check their messages.
In recent years, companies like JPay and GTL have provided free tablets to inmates so they can play music, video games, or movies, exchange messages, or download books.
Inmates cannot access the internet, but they can use the services at a price.
Connect With Your Loved Ones via DoNotPay
DoNotPay has introduced a new product—Connect With an Inmate—aiming to foster relationships and connections between community members and their loved ones in prison. Sending electronic messages can be quite costly for prison inmates. Their income is low, and more often than not, they have to choose between getting commissary items and sending emails to their family or friends.
Our product is a golden mean for both you and your prison pen pal in that it allows you to send emails wherever you are and your recipient to get a printed letter. When you decide to write to a prisoner, you can do so via this DoNotPay platform. When you send it, DoNotPay will print and direct it to the prison where your recipient is.
The great thing about our platform is that you don’t have to check the rules on how to address a letter to an inmate.
To use it, here’s what you need to do:
- Access DoNotPay from your web browser
- Open the Connect With an Inmate pad and click on Send a Personalized Letter
- Input the inmate’s details, such as name, ID, and the facility they are in
- Compose your letter or upload an attachment
- Add any photos you’d like to share
- Send the request
Note that you will also be able to choose a template for your letter, but make sure that the inmate's facility allows customized letters. Prison facilities across the U.S. may have different inmate mail rules and regulations.
Our Connect With an Inmate service comes with two additional features enabling you to:
- Find an inmate
- Receive inmate emails
You can use them by logging in to your DoNotPay account in your web browser. See what happens next in the table below.
Find an Inmate
Receive Inmate Email
DoNotPay will locate the inmate within seconds and give you their current location
Each time the inmate sends you a letter, it will be delivered to the address we have selected.
DoNotPay will then digitize and send the letter to your mailbox
Let DoNotPay Help You With Any Issue
Whatever prison-related question you may have, DoNotPay is here to give you answers!
Open DoNotPay in your web browser, and you will be able to explore other services we offer, such as:
- Suing anyone in small claims court
- Getting free trials risk-free
- Locating any unclaimed assets under your name
- Fixing a DMV appointment fast
- Resolving credit card problems
- Terminating memberships or subscriptions
- Disputing your traffic tickets
- Getting in touch with customer service reps
- Managing your bills
- Being in contact with your incarcerated loved ones
- Blocking text spam
- Shielding yourself from stalking and harassment
- Contesting speeding tickets
- Requesting refunds and chargebacks from other companies
- Registering for services without phone verification
- Freeing yourself from spam mail forever
- Getting compensation for delayed or canceled flights
- Filing a claim for any warranty
- Waiving college application fees
- Appealing your parking tickets
- Applying for clinical research
- Protecting your work against copyright infringement
- Reporting robocalls