An inmate I am writing to has asked for money. Do you have any suggestions?
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.