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IOWA - UPDATE: Mail, Books, Photos, Postcards, Calls & Video Visits

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Petra Swiss Miss
Petra Swiss Miss's picture

Flattery, I take it. lol

I just thought for those rare ones, who make an effort to inform themself ;o)

ST4s
ST4s's picture

I hereby nominate Petra Swiss Miss for the Certificate of Fabulosity. This is awesome info!

Also, I can confirm that Pigeonly is straight from hell. They’re the absolute worst I’ve come across. It’ll be a million zillion bajillion years before I ever go near them again.

Your mileage may vary.

Petra Swiss Miss
Petra Swiss Miss's picture
IOWA - UPDATE: Mail, Books, Photos, Postcards, Calls & Video Visits

For everybody who is writing or is considering to write someone in Iowa.

I made a few posts in the Iowa section before. So, if you want, you're welcome to read them ;o) But I though it's time to make an update and put my knowledge as a foreigner (as of now and without warranty) in one place.

 

Mail

As of July 2022, all incoming mail has to be sent to Nevada. Each Prison is assigned a Facility ID. Example:

Incarcerated Individual Name - Offender ID Number

Facility Name - Facility ID Number

PO Box 96777

Las Vegas, NV  89193

The mail processing facility is operated by Pigeonly Corrections. They offer their own services for staying connected to your loved ones. I do not recommend it! (More later on) For those of you that are new here on WAP: that is why the Iowa pp are now listed under Nevada and not Iowa ;o)

Everything that has to be sent to Nevada (letters, photos, drawings, etc.) will be scanned and photo copied. Meaning your pp will only ever get photo copies of every piece you send. The quality so far is good and all in color.

 

Books

After banning everybody from sending books in to prison in April 2021 and then allowing two vendors in November 2021, here is the current situation. Allowed are only softcover books from these two vendors.

Problem: You have to use an US address to register with both of them. Luckily, I can use one from my pal’s family.

https://www.booksnthingswarehouse.com/Browse.aspx?type=BOOK

(Billing: They pick my foreign address out of my PayPal account. The Credit card payment, MasterCard, did work with my borrowed US address. Something positive: You can attach a note with the order.)

https://www.hamiltonbook.com/books

(Billing: They refused my foreign credit card no matter what address. But PayPal went through without further ado)

Make sure your pp has an open spot for books. Most facility only allow 10 books in private property. Meaning, your pp has to have room to even receive them or has to make room (give some other books away). If everything is ready to order, you'll have the book(s) shipped to the facility directly (not Nevada). Example:

John Smith #1234567

Anamosa State Penitentiary

P.O. Box 10

Anamosa, IA 52205

 

Photos

As of this month, it's possible to send in photos from Pelipost directly to your pp, in facilities in Iowa. I can confirm ISP and ASP are working.

10 pics (the allowed amount) are free and standard shipping is $3.77. It takes about a week from order to delivery.

Iowa will screen all orders PRIOR to processing. Pelipost will NOT print any rejected photos, you get no refund and will not be notified. But your pp will have the photos a week before you get the standard notification, that your order was delivered. Lol

Other vendors, like Shutterfly, are not accepted anymore. The photos will be destroyed.

 

Postcards

The easiest and cheapest way is Ameelio. Send it directly to your pp’s facility in IA.

You get 1 free each month. You can buy Tokens. A 50 Token Pack is $4.99 and buys you 10 postcards. Good quality and no advertisement on the front (unlike Pigeonly).

A very reliable company and quick to response, if you ever have a question.

 

Phone calls

Iowa has a somewhat moderate phone policy. The prices, compared to other States, are not bad.

For example, my friend pays $2.20 for a 20 minute call to my Swiss cell phone. It's the same amount he pays to call his family, who lives in the same State.

Last I heard, you have to be on the approved visitors list to be able to receive phone calls (no warranty)

 

Video Visits

You have to be on the approved visitors list to be able to have Video Visits. There were a few hiccups after the switch from Google Meet to Ameelio Connect. But all in all, it’s good and free to use. (Ameelio is a nonprofit organization) ISP and ASP visits are 50 minutes, on Mondays and Fridays.

ISP was easier to schedule, ASP is always filled to the brim and you really have to constantly check the calendar for an open spot. Then there was (I hope it's in the past now) the clash between Ameelio and Iowa DOC, regarding what is considered a week. Ameelio works with calendar weeks (Mo-Su), while DOC operates on visiting weeks (Fr, Sa, Su, Mo). In both facilities, there is only one video visit per week allowed. That led to some annoying cancelings.

I had two visits with my ASP friend, which did not happen at all. DOC tried to tell me I should check my connection or redo the app. Yada, yada, yada. They wanted to blame Ameelio. After calling in and emailing and complaining to all and sundry, it's working again. My friend found out, from some administration staff, that it was their own firewall, causing problems. And on top of that, they wanted to blame Ameelio and consider switching providers. Could it have anything to do with getting cashback with a profit orientated provider??

 

Pigeonly

What to say to this mess? First, as a European, I'm shocked how the Government can work with a company this obscure. The terms and conditions are a joke. Your privacy, as a customer is not a thing at all. (That is why we, as non US citizens, are not welcomed on some other sites as well. They don't acknowledge the far more strict rules and regulations we have on the web. That, in the end, protect the customer.) You'll find no real information on how everything works and what the costs are. I could go on and on about it.

This is what I could gather: You can only place a new order, when your former one was processed/delivered. Loads of letters have gone missing, from what my pp told me. If you have more than one loved one (as they so nicely call them) you need to pay the monthly fee for each individual. Then they charge your credit cards with extras and are not responding to any attempt to contact them.

My advice, stay clear of them. Send your letter with snail mail and let them be photo copied. For photos pick Pelipost. For Postcards pick Ameelio (Pigeonly has a huge advertisement on the front and only a small pic).

 

Well, that was a lot more than I had in mind. lol But if it helps some of you, that is worth it :o)

Feel free, to add your knowledge or correct me, when I went wrong.

 

Happy writing

Petra