The Ins and Outs of Inmate Mail

Connect With an Inmate The Ins and Outs of Inmate Mail

What You Need To Know About Inmate Mail

Sending mail to inmates is a process that involves numerous regulations to assure safety. If you decide to send a letter to an inmate, you should first check out the specific rules that apply to a certain state and the particular institution they are in.

What You Should Know Before You Mail an Inmate

You can’t just send mail to a prisoner as you would to any other person who is not in jail since the safety of other inmates and people working in that particular facility is at stake. You should first do a bit of research about the rules of the institution the inmate is located in.

Visit their website to find out:


  1. What can and can’t be sent?
  2. What information must be included?
  3. Does your mail have to be sent on certain days during specific hours?
  4. Do you need to contact anyone before sending the mail?
  5. How to address a letter to an inmate?
  6. Will you have an option to visit the prisoner later on?

Mail for Inmates—Rules and Regulations

Just as not anything can be sent to inmates, not anyone can be the one sending the mail. Different rules and regulations apply to different facilities and states, but there are some common ones. People who can send letters to prisoners are:

  • Family members
  • Friends
  • Legal representatives
  • Support groups

If you fall into any of this category, you may send mail to the prisoner you wish to keep in contact with. The person responsible for running the facility must approve the mail before it is received, and it may take a bit longer for the letter to arrive because of the strict procedures.

How To Send Inmate Mail?

Once you find out if you can mail the inmate and what you can send, you’ll need to follow another strict procedure. All mail must be sent through the United States Postal Service (USPS) unless the facility states otherwise and allows other delivery services.

You must include the following information:

  1. Your full name and complete return address
  2. The prisoner’s full name
  3. The inmate’s System Person Number (SPN)
  4. The prisoner’s housing facility
  5. Their cell block location

In case you don’t include any of the listed information, your mail will be returned.

Items You Can Send to Inmates

Before sending a letter to an inmate, you should know what they are permitted to receive. The process is strict, so take a look at some common items you might consider sending and find out if they are eligible:

You Can Send You Can’t Send
  • Photos and newspaper clippings
  • Clothing for court appearances
  • Paperback books (new, not used) directly from the publisher
  • Appropriate photos
  • Postcards and greeting cards
  • Personal letters
  • The whole newspaper
  • Mail with stickers on it
  • Pens and pencils
  • Cash
  • Food
  • Medicine
  • Photos that contain nudity
  • Laminated cards
  • Coded messages
  • Perfumed letters
  • Cigarettes
  • Cosmetics
  • Locks of hair

What You Should Know About Sending Legal Mail to Inmates

Different rules apply to case-related and personal mail when it comes to written communication with prisoners. The most important distinction is that the jail staff cannot open any case-related letters or legal documents if they have an official stamp. This also includes legal paperwork from attorneys.

The information you should include when sending mail pertaining to legal matters to inmates is:

  • The return address with your job, agency, or company title
  • Your job, agency, or company title clearly visible on the envelope
  • The words Legal Mail or Official Mail written on the address side of the mail

Prisoners can send and receive sealed letters only from certain organizations and institutions:

  • Courts
  • Counsels
  • State or local chief executive officers
  • The Correctional Institution Inspection Committee (CIIC)

In certain situations, even legal mail may be opened, but only in the presence of the recipient.

How To Mail an Inmate With DoNotPay

DoNotPay is the easiest way to get in touch with an inmate you care about. You can skip the complicated process of sending mail to your incarcerated loved one by using our app. Here are the only steps you’ll need to follow:

  1. Open DoNotPay in your web browser and log in to your account
  2. Find and select the Connect With an Inmate category
  3. Pick one of the three possible features:
  • Send a Personalized Letter
  • Locate Someone
  • Virtual Mailbox

How To Send a Personalized Letter to an Inmate With DoNotPay

DoNotPay makes it easy to write to a prisoner you care about. With our app, you can avoid the otherwise time-consuming process, which involves numerous steps and a visit to the post office. You only need to write a letter, and we will take care of everything else. Follow these simple instructions:

  1. Open the DoNotPay prison feature
  2. Fill out the fields with the required info, such as the inmate’s name and ID
  3. Compose your message directly via our website/app or upload it
  4. Attach photos to the letter if you wish 
  5. Pick a customized letter template (Halloween or Christmas themes, for example)

When you complete the process, we will print and send the letter, and your loved one will receive it as soon as possible.

How To Receive Letters From Inmates With DoNotPay

DoNotPay also makes it easier for inmates to reply to the letters they receive. The process is pretty straightforward and saves a lot of time:

  1. The person imprisoned sends the letter to a specific address
  2. We digitize the letter
  3. We send the letter to you

You can always check your Virtual Mailbox and see the response from the person you care about without dealing with different mailing services.

How To Locate an Inmate With the Help of DoNotPay

Another great feature DoNotPay offers is helping you locate your prison pen pal. Your virtual assistant can make sure you find your incarcerated loved one in any state, county, federal, or ICE detention center. Here are the only steps you’ll need to follow:

  1. Open the DoNotPay prison feature
  2. Provide the name of the prisoner 
  3. Enter the state the prisoner is located in

When you complete this simple process, we will find the inmate and let you know where they are being held at the moment.

Other Ways DoNotPay Can Help You Out

DoNotPay is the world’s first robot lawyer that can help you fight numerous administrative issues you might come across. If you are interested in finding out more about inmate mail rules and regulations, our app can provide you with answers. Your virtual assistant will help you understand how sending packages to inmates in various states such as Ohio or California functions.

Learn more about the phone services, such as ICSolutions, Securus Technologies, or Global Tel Link (GLT), that can help you call inmates.

If you open DoNotPay in your web browser, we can help you take care of:


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