Skip to main content

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

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


Hi Everyone,

I've recently joined the Prison Pen-Pals community and I've been enjoying very much the experience. I've received my first letters and with one of my Pen-Pal, we've decided to exchange with J-Pay. We exchange two e-mails before him asking me to send a Prepaid Reply since he doesn't have much stamps. After reading a lot on this site, I must admit, I have my guard up with paying something for an inmate. The prices for "stamps" aren't that expensive... what is a couple of dollars for me on the outsite? However, as I said, I feel like it's setting the tone for me to pay everytime I want to e-mail with him. What are your opinions on sending "Prepaid Reply" this early on? 


Thanks for your help guys, I'm all new to this and I just want to get a feel of what other suggest!


Last post
16 posts / 0 new


Hi MG, I'm not sure but I have always had the impression that with a "reply" stamp affixed to a letter, that can only be used to reply to the sender of that letter.  Could be very wrong, maybe they are interchangeable and transferrable.  I've always had the impression, too, that my penpals on JPay were using my stamps to reply to me, and not to reply to others.  I never had a situation where I wondered where all my single return-reply stamps were going, in other words.  I find it a pretty safe thing to do--most of the time sending my letters with a return stamp--because it costs so little and makes my friends not have to beg.  I think most of the time they may not strictly need it, but I'm pretty sure it's always appreciated.  And if they do strictly need it, it's there without their having to ask.


Hey guys, I have a question related to the subject. When I send a prepaid stamp to my penpal, can he use it to reply only to me or can he use the stamp to write someone else? I've been getting a little bit of a scammer vibes from my penpal and I don't want to keep talking to him if he's taking advantage of me..


Hi Lotus!  :)  I agree, there might be a danger (or a perceived risk) of appearing to be overly...pitying, or solicitous, or offering to give stamps or other things before asked.  I for some reason don't have the option with two of my pen pals to send money or more than one return stamp at a time, so I'm off the hook for anything like that!  Maybe some people get the option to send more than one stamp to their PPs, but I've only had the option to do one at a time, and to me, one stamp doesn't seem sort of goes along with the letter I'm sending, like, Hey, here's my letter and here's the prepayment to reply to it if you want.  But it's not more than one stamp at a time, so I don't think it could be viewed as "too much" or viewed as presuming too much about the prisoner's financial ability.  

I've never actually sent money to a pp.  I'm not sure I would.  But a 20 cent return stamp included with most of my letters, seems like a fair and sustainable concession to the realities of the situation, with my current pen pals.


I think that's sweet, Mjuran.  There are definitely times I'd love to give more stamps and do more nice things for my Pen pal, I guess I get a little nervous like, I don't want to be seen overwhelming or like I'm showing pity, something like that, I've had pen pals act sort of...offended if I did something nice, but it's probably just me thinking things too far too.  (-:

I'll just give a lot at his birthday or Christmas then so I have an excuse to do it lol.  


Also, prisoners get one or two stamps a week given to them by their facility or JPay each week.  So if you enter into a correspondence with a prisoner and expect them to bear the cost of writing to you, even though it is way more expensive for them than it is for you, you're basically asking them to choose to write to you rather than to someone else.  You're asking them to spend their 1 - 2 stamps per week on you, or you and maybe one other pen pal, and to write no more than once a week, because that'll be all they have stamps for.

If I was a prisoner with several potential pen pals writing to me, and I could only choose one or two and limit my letters to each to one a week, because I didn't have enough stamps to write and respond to everyone I wanted to as often as I wanted to, because none of these potential pen pals were willing to include a return stamp...I'd probably say screw the lot of you, and not write to any of them.  There's a certain amount of goodwill and generosity that has to be a part of the prison pen pal relationship, and if it's not worth it to a free world pen pal to include a 20 cent return stamp once in a while, or they feel being asked for a stamp is impolite and greedy or taking advantage...I don't see it going anyplace good.  Just my 2 cents.  Of course no one should ask for anything rudely or in a way that sounds entitled, if that's the issue here then I agree phrasing the request does require some tact.


JPay costs 20 cents for a page of text.  Some inmates can afford it, but many strugglel to come up with that amount, prison economy is not like the general economy at all.  Prisoners have slave-labor jobs and pay.  I always attach a return stamp to every JPay I write, without being asked, and everyone I've written to on JPay and received my return stamps has always thanked me immediately, saying things like "Most people don't realize how much value a 20 cent "stamp" has on the inside, here."  

I think it's reasonable to be skeptical and skittish if someone outright asks for money, but a stamp?  A stamp is necessary to send a letter, if an inmate has to choose between food and sending a letter, most will choose food.  20 cents isn't a big deal to us on the outside, but it is to them.

I've never felt taken advantage of sending stamps to prisoners, if I'm writing to them.  I feel it's part of my responsibility, as a participant in whatever relationship I hace with  pen pal, to pay my share of the cost of writing PLUS whatever share of the cost of writing the prisoner can't reasonably manage on his or her own.  If I thought someone could afford to buy their own stamps but wanted me to pay, I simply wouldn't write to that person, but that has never happened to me and I wouldn't expect it to.  


Bonjour comment fonctionne jpay ou doit-je faire un compte svp ? Je voulais écrire à un détenu il a écrire contactée moi sur jpay sur son profil mais je ne comprend pas comment je doit faire svp merci 


Hi how much is jpay per message? How is it paid? Is there a monthly cost? Thanks 


Hey Chalemay23, I am in the stage of being asked / suggested to use J-pay, not yet being asked to pay for it. I am wondering how it turned out for you later on.

Thank you


Use the "prepaid reply" button on your message, otherwise they can use the stamps for whatever purpose they like.


Thanks guys for all of the comments... It's just with everything I read on the forum people were kinda giving the advice not to start giving money to the inmates.. I didn't know on Jpay it was a thing. I'm still new to all that stuff... I really appreciate you guys taking the time to give your input! I might send him a couple of stamps once in a while.

My other Pen-Pal doesn't ask for anything and sends a lot more and often includes pictures so I must admit I was surprise the other one ask right away. However, you guys are right... They are probably in really different situations.


I always send her a prepaid reply and sometimes transfer her 10 or 15 so she can send pictures or write others. Its 35 cents a stamp a small price for us but a soup or coffee for them. I see nothing wrong with you prepaying his stamps even from day 1


With Jpay its just a kind thing to do to give them a reply paid stamp and bare the costs. It's not that expensive and it means that they don't have to find the money for a stamp some other way which might also involve hustling.


Oh good! Glad it worked out like that. Thanks for the update : )


Hi @CLW,

I've set my limits right away saying that I didn't feel confortable paying for stamps. I added that I understand if he can't keep the pen-pal thing going because of that and I wouldn't be offended if he decided to stop talking. It ended up going really well since he said he gets it and he's going to "figure it out". Thanks for the advice :) 


Hi and welcome to the forum!

I would say it's too early, but on the other hand; I don't know your pen pal's situation. Maybe he gets very little support from family on the outside and stamps are 'precious' for someone in prison. I send one of my pen pals a little money every now and then, and he's always grateful for whatever he receives. But it really depends on the situation and how you feel about this pen pal. If you're not comfortable with paying for his stamps, either this early or in the future because, yes, it may become an ongoing thing, then you just don't. Or you can set a limit, pay a certain number of stamps per month and that's it.