Everything You Need To Know About Writing Letters to Inmates

iEditorial Note: These blog posts represent the opinion of DoNotPay’s Writers, but each person’s situation and circumstances vary greatly. As a result, you should make sure to do your own independent research. Because everyone is unique, our self-help tools are never guaranteed to help with any specific situation. DoNotPay is not a law firm, is not licensed to practice law, and is not equivalent to the services of a licensed lawyer. DoNotPay provides a platform for legal information and self-help, and does not offer legal services. Third party news articles mentioned on our website do not necessarily reflect the views of the company, or the current services that we offer.

Writing Letters to Inmates—A Guide on How To Get In Touch With a Prisoner

If you’ve never been imprisoned, then you can only imagine how lonely a cell can become. Prisoners are human beings, and just like any human, they yearn for contact with the outside world. The majority of them stated that knowing someone cares about them is what keeps them going. The Federal Bureau of Prisons confirms this with their research, which reveals that inmates—regardless of their gender—want to be accepted once they get out.

This is why there are so many prison pen pals out there. People want to help prisoners get back on their feet.

With the help of DoNotPay, you’ll be able to write a prisoner and show them that they’re not alone. DoNotPay will help you address a letter to an inmate correctly.

Writing to inmates is no joke—it comes with rules and safety precautions. Those rules, that are set by the prison, are different in every state. Before you send a letter to someone in prison, make sure you know everything about:

  • The general rules
  • The permitted content of the letter
  • The safety precautions

General Rules of Writing an Inmate in Prison

There are some general rules that you need to follow so that your letter reaches its destination. The rules about writing prisoners differ from state to state, but some universal ones are:

  • Write the full name of the prisoner
  • Include the prisoner’s ID number
  • Write your name and the return address on the envelope and in the letter
  • Choose the correct envelope size
  • Don’t put perfume on the letter
  • Don't decorate the letter in any way
  • Make sure that, if you want to send a book, you order it from a bookstore that is willing to deliver it
  • Keep in mind that anything you send is going to be inspected by the prison officials
  • Don’t send hardback copies of books because they can be used to hurt someone

The best option is to look up the information on the website of the prison that your loved one is in. It should have detailed rules about which content is permitted.

Appropriate Content in Letters for Prisoners

The content of your letter will depend on the relationship you have with the inmate. If they’re a loved one, you’ll know what to write. The situation is different with pen pals who are strangers to you.

Many people shared that they don’t feel safe revealing their home address, so they provide their work address or the post office address.

Check out what your letter should and should not contain, especially if you’re writing to a stranger:

Letter Should ContainLetter Should Not Contain
  • The date
  • A clear greeting and the prisoner’s first name
  • Information about the happenings in your everyday life—no details
  • Questions about them that are open-ended
  • Gift cards for holidays and birthdays
  • Maps or any content that might be interpreted as an escape plan
  • Anything related to a criminal offense
  • Content that might threaten national security
  • Anything homophobic or racially offensive
  • Content that is sexual or explicit
  • Anything that might be used against the prisoner in court
  • Secret codes

A question that isn’t appropriate in any case is the one about their crime. You should wait for your penpal to open up on their own.

What Are Some Safety Precautions You Need To Take When Writing to a Prisoner?

After some time of correspondence, you might feel relaxed and close to your pen pal enough to reveal personal information. You should be careful about what you disclose, though.

If they’re not someone you know well—a close friend or a family member—you should think twice about revealing information like your home address or anything that seems too detailed or compromising.

Try not to judge the prisoner and be as kind as possible, but keep yourself safe.

How To Write a Letter to a Prisoner by Yourself and Make Sure They Receive It

Follow these steps to write a letter to a prisoner and send it correctly:

  1. Review your letter for inappropriate content
  2. Find the rules and guidelines about what you can send to your inmate on the website of the prison they’re in
  3. Write the prison address, the inmate’s full name, and their prisoner ID—you can find it on the website
  4. Write your full name and the return address—if you don’t feel safe, make it your post office address
  5. Go to the post office and mail your letter

How To Write Someone in Prison and Send Them the Letter With the Help of DoNotPay

You need to know plenty of details before writing a prisoner, such as the correct address of the prison, prisoner’s ID, guidelines on the permitted content, and more. DoNotPay can help you write a letter to a prisoner without the trouble of surfing the internet for hours. You don’t even need to know the prisoner’s ID to send a letter via our app!

DoNotPay can help you:

  • Send a personalized letter
  • Locate an inmate
  • Receive a digitized version of a letter

How To Send a Personalized Letter to Your Loved One or a Pen Pal in Prison

To send a letter to your loved one or a pen pal, sign up for DoNotPay in your and do the following:

  1. Select Connect With an Inmate
  2. Click on Send a Personalized Letter
  3. Enter the inmate’s full name and confirm it
  4. Locate the facility by state or city
  5. Type in the unit the prisoner’s in
  6. Write your letter

Our chatbot will enable you to add a photo to your letter, and we will ask you if you want to receive an answer from your inmate through DoNotPay. This is the third option—the virtual mailbox.

You can also choose a specific theme for your letter, like birthday, seasonal holidays, and other styles.

How To Locate an Inmate

If you want to locate your loved one or your pen pal, DoNotPay can help you. Follow these guidelines to find the prisoner:

  1. Click on Connect With an Inmate
  2. Select Locate Someone
  3. Type in the full name of the prisoner
  4. Enter the state the inmate’s located in
  5. Provide the details about the prisoner if you’re able to
  6. Tap on Proceed

If you don’t know the inmate’s ID or birthday, don’t worry—DoNotPay is still able to locate them for you.

DoNotPay Sets You Free From All the Administrative Issues

DoNotPay helps you get in touch with your loved ones in prison, but that’s not all that we can do. Do you have an issue with stalkers? DoNotPay can show you how to stop a stalker or deal with an ex that’s stalking you. We can also help you get a restraining order.

DoNotPay can offer you assistance with an array of issues, and we’re constantly expanding our services. Find all of our app's features by logging in to your account in any .

You can get help with:

Want your issue solved now?