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Must read Terms of Service & Privacy Policy and be at least 18

Must read Terms of Service & Privacy Policy and be at least 18

General Questions about WriteAPrisoner.com

Books Behind Bars Program

Placing Inmate Profiles on WriteAPrisoner.com

Tips and Guidelines for Writing a Profile

Writing Inmates

  • No. In fact, reports of fraud amongst our members is very rare. We provide this information as a precaution.

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  • No. You must be at least 18 years of age to even be viewing this website. If you are under 18, please EXIT now. If you are under 18 years of age, you can jeopardize our service and the inmates who use it by visiting this website or making contact with inmates.

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  • Institutions' rules vary from prison to prison. It is recommended that you do not send cash, personal checks, stamps, stationery, or any items of any kind without first checking with the institution at which the inmate is incarcerated. In most cases, you will not be able to send any items like these.

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  • Yes, we do have suggestions for establishing a lasting friendship. Please read our Point of Contact page for some tips on writing for prison pen-pals.

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  • Yes. If you send your first message to an inmate via our email forwarding option, the inmate will be given your postal address and the email you used to register. This allows the inmate two options to contact you. If you do not want the inmate to have your email address, send your message directly instead of using our email forwarding option. You do not have to give your address to an inmate if you are willing to get a P.O. Box. Also, your local religious centers may let you use their address. They tend to be very supportive of inmates maintaining contact with the outside world. Be sure to ask before doing this. Another option may be to use your post office's General Delivery service. Please contact your local post office directly for additional information about this service.

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  • First, check the address for typos. If everything appears correct, the inmate may have changed locations without telling us, or we may have not had a chance to update the address yet. In these cases, we recommend checking the inmate's profile again after two weeks to see if the address has been updated. You can also search to see if the inmate has been moved using our Inmate Locator.

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  • We do not encourage you to send money to an inmate at any time. Many inmates are indigent, and we fully understand that they may ask people on the outside for money once correspondence is established. Institutions provide all basic necessities to inmates (e.g., food, clothing). In many cases, even educational programs and materials are free to inmates. Donating money is a decision that can only be made by you. Remember that you chose to write to an inmate, not sponsor one. You are not obligated to send money, nor do most inmates ask for money. If this makes you feel at all uncomfortable, don't do it. A few dollars can go far in prison, but you should never send large sums of money under any circumstances, nor should you ever send cash. Many pen-pals will send $25.00 or so on birthdays or holidays to the inmate they are writing. Inmates can use money in prison to purchase a variety of items including better quality hygiene products, art supplies, postage, phone cards, and food in some cases. They can also use money from their account to purchase magazine subscriptions and books. You can also ask questions about this on our forum. There you will find many seasoned pen-pals who are willing to share their experiences and make suggestions. The bottom line is, don't do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, and report anything that you suspect as unethical or illegal. For more information on reporting and researching postal fraud, please visit: Detecting & Reporting Fraud.

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  • Please be very patient. Institutional mail typically moves significantly slower than normal mail. Mail is rarely lost as long as it is addressed properly. International mail can take much longer for delivery. If you emailed an inmate using our email forwarding service, messages are sent on the 7th and 23rd of each month. If you are afraid mail has been lost after a reasonable amount of time has passed, we suggest sending your letter again.

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  • We are not a dating website, and we do not encourage you use our website to seek romance. Some inmates do place profiles on our website geared toward romance. While we strongly encourage them not to do this, we have found that most still welcome a pen-pal relationship. If you are overly concerned with it, simply do not correspond with anyone seeking romance in their profile.

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  • Addresses do not need to be listed in the message section of the email an inmate form. They are automatically added when you complete this form, and so is your email address.

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  • There are several legitimate reasons why an inmate suddenly stops writing. Inmates are moved frequently, even within an institution, so this could be a factor. Also, mail can be lost, the inmate could be sick, or perhaps the inmate is short on funds for postage. In addition, an inmate's possessions are typically limited to a box or two. If these boxes were to be lost or stolen, it is possible that the inmate no longer has your address. Try writing another letter. If you don't hear back from the inmate, use our Inmate Locator to verify that the inmate's address hasn't changed. It is very rare that an inmate will abandon a pen-pal. However, depression can be a reason that your prison pen-pal has stopped writing. Don't give up on them without thoroughly examining the situation.

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  • "Verified" may be displayed next to an inmate's photo or crime. This means we were able to verify the information to the best of our ability on a government website. If "verified" is not displayed, it simply means that we are unable to verify the information. It does not mean that the inmate is being deceptive, only that WriteAPrisoner.com was unable to confirm the information through a government website. 

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  • Yes. Additionally, we will mail up to one hundred printed surveys out to inmates on your behalf. The recipients will all be randomly selected inmates within the United States. The survey must contain a return address, and it must fit onto one page, front and back print. Please contact us with specific details of what you are looking for.

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  • In many cases, institutions do allow inmates to send stamps to people outside of prison, but never other inmates. This is really a case-specific question, and the inmate would have to answer it. We would not be able to provide information on policies related to specific facilities.

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  • As long as the message has not been printed and sent yet, we can cancel it. However, we cannot edit the message. Please be sure to contact us using the same account you registered with. Once we delete the message, you would not be able to send a new one to this same inmate via our email forwarding option. You would have to write to them directly at the address provided or email them using a facility approved email option.

    Please be sure to include the following when you contact us:

    I emailed the following inmate below and wish to cancel and delete this email.

    Inmate's first and last name exactly as it appears on our website

    Inmate's department of corrections number

    Link to inmate's profile

    Date message was sent

    Contact us here.

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  • Yes. You can email your first message to an inmate on our website. We will verify that the content is approved, then print and send it directly to the inmate. This can only be done once per inmate for initial contact. After this, you would need to use a prison approved email service or postal mail to keep in contact with the inmate.

    Additionally, many inmates have facility approved emailing options. If this option is available, you will see it mentioned directly on the inmate's profile. These vary from facility to facility, and we are unable to provide support for these third-party services.

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  • Rules vary widely from institution to institution, but generally speaking, yes, it is okay to send a postcard. Just be sure to follow all the same rules you would when sending a letter.

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  • Emails received by the end of the business day on the 4th and 20th of each month will typically be printed and mailed no later than the 7th and 23rd of each month. Prison mail always moves slower, so please give the letter ample time to arrive and time for the inmate to reply.

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  • These rules and practices vary from prison to prison. It is best to visit the appropriate institution's website to find out before sending a message in another language. If you are unable to verify which languages are permitted, it is safest to send the message in English. You may also wish to ask the inmate before attempting this.

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  • We are unable to provide specific detail as to why an email forward was rejected. Reasons for rejections may include, but not be limited to, the user is attempting to use it to contact someone they already know, the return address is incorrect, some of the content included may be likely to get the mail rejected by the institution, more emails sent than allowed, message is longer than permitted, and a host of other possibilities.

    If this happens, a new email to the same person cannot be sent. However, you can send a letter directly using the address on the profile of the person incarcerated or another means of contact if one is provided.

    We are unable to comment further on this.

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  • No. Inmates are only notified when they receive messages. If there are no messages for an inmate during a mailing period, we do not send any notification.

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General Questions about Prison Life

  • There are many official third-party services for pen-pals to email inmates. These are fee-based services and are monitored by the institutions. WriteAPrisoner.com provides no mechanism of contact for inmates to actually email. However, once you are registered and logged into our website, you can create and send your first message to an inmate using our website. We will first check to make sure your message complies with all rules and laws, and then we will print and send it via postal mail to the inmate.

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  • Because of third party services, inmates can, in many cases, leave voicemails for you. This is a fee-based service. WriteAPrisoner.com in no way helps facilitate this kind of communication, but institution policy sometimes allows it.

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  • While conjugal visits have been proven to be effective methods of reducing recidivism and reintegrating inmates into society, they have been in widespread decline for many years. There are still some institutions practicing conjugal visits. However, it remains unclear if they will continue in the future.

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