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Can I use the CorrLinks website for the first contact?

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Kairi's picture
Can I use the CorrLinks website for the first contact?

Hello everyone, 

I am new on this page and I want to text someone :) her profile she says that there is the possibilty to write emails via corrlink. Do I first have to write a letter and ask whether we can text there or can I just make a account and text her there? And if it's so do I have to pay for it?


Thank you for your answers <3

VioletGrey's picture

Hi - lots of Corrlinks questions lately. Thank goodness for ST4s and his helpful answers. 
For Corrlinks, I don't know which States use it but for Federal prisons, it's the communication of choice. If your PP is in a Federal prison, then you will have to write a letter to her first with your email address, so she can send you an invitation to be a contact on her list. 
Here's how that works: 

"For CorrLinks to federal:

Step 1: Create an account at

Step 2: Provide the inmate with your email address, the one you used to create an account in step 1.

Step 3: The inmate adds you as a contact on their end.

Step 4: CorrLinks will send you an email, saying so and so would like to contact you via CorrLinks. In this email you’ll find a string of numbers that you’ll need for step 5.

Step 5: Log into your CorrLinks account. Usually it will take you immediately to the place where you have to enter this code. Do so. If it doesn’t, go to Account Management > Manage My Inmate List and enter the code there. Your inmate will then show as “pending”.

Step 6: Wait. It usually takes at least a few hours for the “pending” notice to disappear. After it does, you may send and receive messages on the CorrLinks platform.

Easy, no? FYI, CorrLinks to a federal inmate is zero-cost for folks on the outside, unless you sign up for the premium account. The inmate pays a per-minute charge to compose and read CorrLinks “emails” at a kiosk – five cents a minute at last check, but it adds up, so keep this in mind.

Pro tip: if it looks like your CorrLinks correspondence is going somewhere, get the app for your phone and sign up for the “Premium Account” on the CorrLinks website. It’s only a few bucks and will save you tons of frustration – e.g. you won’t have to log-into the website and go through the “I’m not a robot” thing with every incoming message." - by the oracle ST4s 

If it's not a Federal prison, then I think you can just add the inmate by their name & DoC number and email them that way. I think Iowa is one State that uses Corrlinks for State prisons as well. 

Kairi's picture

So in any case I have to write a letter first? @VioletGrey

Thank you for your answer <3

VioletGrey's picture

Kairi - basically yes, reach out, write an introduction, send it off and wait - patiently :) 

Kairi's picture

okay :3 ..thank you <3

Aitor's picture

I´m coming to help, but @VioletGrey said it all :/

And yes, Iowa uses Corrlinks for State prisons

jadvotw's picture

When you say send a letter, are you saying send a snail mail letter?   I have emailed the Federal prison itself to ask how to contact a prisoner not on the WaP website.   I am waiting for their response.  I am hoping it is still possible to send an email to the prison and have them print it off and which has my email address on it. 

But I am wondering, will the inmate then have my email address?

VioletGrey's picture

Yes, a physical typed printed letter or hand written letter. Which also requires a return address and full name on the top left corner, or back of the envelope in my case. 

Being that it's prison, and that the guards/facilty isn't there to do personal favours for the public, or inmates, I'm going to go ahead and say that your request isn't going to be carried out. If you're worried about an inmate having your personal details like an email address, or your real name, or home address, then you can use a P.O. Box, or try Jmail instead. 
From Jmails website: 

In an attempt to help friends and family keep in touch with their incarcerated loved ones CorrComms has created this site. is a low cost alternative for people to send messages from the privacy of their own home. Send letters, share photos, and never have to worry about envelopes, stamps, or taking your digital photo to the store to be printed. We take care of all of this for you. Our newest service, called "Jmail Box" allows you to use our address as your own. We receive your letters on your behalf, scan them and upload them to your account. This is great for people located outside the USA or for those who simply don't want to give out their home address to an inmate. We hope you find our services valuable and we look forward to meeting your mailing needs.

Also, if you're that worried about an inmate with no (legal) access to the internet having your email address, I would have to wonder if writing to inmates is appropriate... because if the lack of trust is already that deep with someone behind bars, why would you want to start communicating with inmates in the first place? It saddens me to see people come to the forum asking for advice on how to tell their PP that "Candy Smith" isn't their real name after they've had 8 weeks of really good communication with them. Most of the inmates that place ads are genuinely seeking a friendship of some kind, a place to be more themselves than prison and its structures & inmate policed rules let them be. Starting that correspondence with lies or a bunch of negative stereotypes build up seems, to me, to be the opposite of what inmates would want to gain when placing an ad on WAP. Of course it is your choice to be safe, and feel comfortable with whatever you're undertaking, so writing via JPay (not to Texas or Colorado, or some prisons in Cali) might be better as you don't have to give an email address or a physical address to communicate. Or Jmail, which is a virtual inbox where you don't have to disclose your address or email, again. But all these services cost money. As does a postal letter. And from your other post, the idea of sending a letter and not getting a reply is a "waste" which I find strange. A postal letter from NZ to the US costs me $3.50. A postal letter from the US to NZ costs my pen pal at least 3 first class stamps. It goes both ways. And for it to work out, I think you have to put a little trust and faith in it, just as they do when putting their ads up. 
Sorry for my rant about it, it's more aimed at the collective mistrust of inmates, and not to do with you specifically. 

jadvotw's picture

I think, once again, you are reading into things, and maybe there is a reason for that, I don't know.... 

1. I am not afraid of giving my email address to an inmate, I have several accounts or can create a new one to use specifically with inmates. This is a no brainer and quite easy to do, I only asked the question as that will influence which one I use.  No one coming to these forums is an internet moron as far as I can tell.  My question was general, and the reason I asked is because I think most inmates CANNOT use normal email addresses to write someone, so I was confused, if they have my email address, it's not a big deal.

2. I never said sending a snail mail is a "waste".  Perhaps you misread that also.  Perhaps I said a waste of time to run to the post office.  I am not living in the wonderful land of the US or a tiny little town in the western world or or other place where there is a mailbox placed outside my home where a mailman drives up and takes my mail everyday.   I need to go to the post office and find time to do so that may not be convenient for me as the waiting times depend.  Email is a much more viable option for me.  Even if I email and then return a letter.  My handwriting is not that great either, so it would be better for me and the inmate if I typed a letter.  Understand?  If I use a PO box, yep, I still need to go to the post office, but it is only to pick up mail, takes 10 seconds and I can go. 

3. The last thing I am concerned about is the cost. I am not sure where you got the idea that I had a problem about costs. I don't.  I am willing to spend anywhere from 50-150USD a year corresponding per inmate.  At the upper range that is almost a letter every week sent by normal postal mail, which is probably not going to happen anyway. 

I am really sorry to hear that you have sort of been drained by people who do the things you mention above, but not all of us are like that.  I get that maybe you have a lot of assumptions about newbies, and understadably as you have been here awhile, but I hope you will give people a little more credit .... sometimes....   cheers..  

I appreciate your feedback and references to other sites.  I actually ran across in my searches in corrlinks and other websites.  I agree that the request I made is not going to be carried out, but I wanted to verify directly from the prison where the inmate is housed about their policy and procedure for sending mail. Not asking for favors or whatnot.  You really need to give people a little more credit violet... 

In addition, writing by Jpay, not in Texas?  Why does the site allow you to buy credits for Texas then and add inmates from Texas?  I am confused.  Or is that one sided only then?  I use Jpay to send an email, they print it out and mail it to the inmate and the inmate then replies by postal mail?  I am ok with that also. 

My question above was mainly for someone who IS NOT listed on WaP and at a Federal prison.  They have their own set of rules and generally use Corrlinks.  Because this prisoner is more high profile there might be additional issues that I will run up against.  And it looks like for the first contact I will need to write a normal postal letter, which I am ok to do the first time to coorespond.  

VioletGrey's picture

Oh, I am for sure reading into things, because generally newbies ask these kind of questions worried about their privacy and so forth. You didn't elaborate on why, so I went with the assumption that you're worried about privacy, that and the other things you've posted in other threads gave me an overall feeling of apprehension of writing to inmates, and also a sense of "getting it just right" - which I suppose is better than you're doing your research. 
As for 2 & 3 waste/cost. You wrote "indeed I can see how WaP is only for initial contact, though with only two per month it's kinda sad because I am not sure if I want to fork out money at the beginning and then get no reply." That's what I'm referring to you saying about wasting money to not get a reply. Of course, your financial decisions are all your own choice, and I didn't mean to make you justify your financial decisions to strangers on the internet. But for me, it wouldn't be something that I would even think about, spending money & not get a reply. I have happen that to me once, at the beginning of last year. I wrote a letter and never got a reply. No harm done. I've also had letters returned to me for not passing the prison mail room rules, and re-sent them, so effectively using $7 for one letter to be sent. It's part in parcel of the prison pen pal game as far as I see it. Writing to PPs always ends up differently to expectations, and that can mean costs sneak up on you. I send my partner in prison at least one letter a week, maybe  two or three some weeks (one letter and two printouts for his art, or something I've drawn myself) then I use Pelipost to send photos instead of doing it via the post. I have a Skype number years subscription that was about $85 for the year, and is a waste because half the time the number doesn't even ring. Then I have a premium Corrlinks subscription which cost $10NZD for a year. I agree with you in your first comments that all of it is very confusing - and that is why I come to the forum to help people connect with inmates better rather than being put off by things that can be more easily explained.  If I misinterpreted that quote  too, then, disregard my comments? 

As for giving people credit, I'm trying to answer the questions put in front of me. If you are trying to contact an inmate that is not on any pen pal site, then you can search their location by using inmate locators. For Feds it's easy because it's across the whole country, so you just need their first and last name to find out which prison they're in. That's on the website under "Find an Inmate". 
For States, it's a little different as each State has their own inmate finder. And some of those websites can be a little old & clunky to navigate. The reference to "favours" was more from the prisons point of view. As they get lots of people trying to find out this or that, and generally prisons are not even on the scale of helpful. More trying to say, I wouldn't waste your time or breath asking directly at a prison, because you're likely to be ignored. 

As for location, and limitations, I get that. Not everyone can and likes to write handwritten letters, and not everyone is down the road from a post office. But unless that's clear in the question, I'm answering to the generic questions and assuming it's for the most common reasons. If you're particular queries relate to not being able to get to a post office or post letters (typed or written) then JPay is going to be your best bet. I say not Texas, because people on here use email platforms to avoid giving out personal details. But if that's not an issue, then JPay to whatever State would be best suited to you. Corrlinks, as I just wrote in another thread, costs the inmate based on the time they're logged into it. So if they're slow typers, it's going to cost them more to send a message. Also time is limited and if you intend to send full (long messages), usually - not during a pandemic - they can get them printed out at a cost to the inmate. Also, for instance, the printers are usually in the Federal rec rooms, and due to Covid, they are all closed because of limiting access to public spaces. Corrlinks only costs the "out-mate" when you pay for a premium account. 
Whereas JPay, in States like Texas, the prison will print it out and deliver them like normal mail. And other States, it'll go just through to the inmates JPay account and they can reply as they see fit. JPay is so varied across the board, some prisons have kiosks only, and not a lot, and other places and inmates can have access to tablets to write back, but at some points have to attach to wifi to actually send the message. Sometimes the wifi goes down, or a guard switches it off, or they get in trouble lose privileges and can't reply. For the cost, they are digital stamps, like Kirsten said, a set price for each State, eg. 10 stamps for $20 in Ohio and 10 stamps for $25 in Florida (all figures are made up and meant to be an example- not the actually prices!) and the stamps from Florida cannot be used to write to your Ohio inmate. But if you had two pen pals in Ohio, then you can use those stamps for both those inmates. There is an option to include a pre-paid stamp for your pen pal to reply only to you, and some States have had a day which the replies are free, ie free replies on Wednesdays in Michigan (again, another example, not factual). So inmates use the same payment system for the digital stamps that Jpays unincarcerated users use. 

But Federal prisons only use Corrlinks. So if you're wanting to write to an inmate in a Federal prison then JPay isn't available. 
If you're going to write/type a letter to a Federal prison, my advice would be: use blue/black ink, plain white or lined paper, stick to 5 pages or less, and print or write single sided until you know what the specific mail room guidelines are. I have two Federal pen pals, one can receive double sided letters of any length and he receives the actually written letter but the other can only receive up to 10 pages and they need to be single sided. And they're photocopied before given to my PP. They also photocopy any photos sent to them as well.  But the Federal mail guidelines are just the generic ones - not facility specific, and aren't available anywhere except from the inmates themselves a lot of the time. 
I guess my assumptions made an ass out of me in your eyes. Good luck with writing. I hope my second reply was much more helpful. 

jadvotw's picture

LOL, Violet, no no, your not an ass at all, not one bit.  I get that you are trying to be helpful and I totally appreciate your time to write here and guide new people. One day, who knows, I might be the new you on here. haha.   And I might have the same assumptions as you have had about every single newbie that enters the chat.  So I get it.

I appreciate your response, and about 80% of what you wrote above I already figured out by spending some time on each of those sites.  I had some issues with finding the inmate through the federal system, stupid me used a site called instead of using the site which I have been on and off of.  I found the inmate in the site but not the other.  I didn't notice they had a find an inmate there, but alas, there it is.   And I found what I wanted.   But I did not find how to write, other than on their main page of the prison they are at.  I planned to type the letter, not write it, is this acceptable for Federal prisons?  Or must it be handwritten?

As for my waste question, yeah it was me thinking outloud and I should not have written that. I actually do not expect everyone to write back, either because they don't want to write me specically, got too much mail, or for whatever reason, and all is fine, it is their choice, I don't really expect anything.

I have had a skype number for a long time, and I use it, never wasteful, but I am not sure I am comfortable giving that number to an inmate, but it would really really really depend on how long we talk and how the relationship goes. I am not ruling anything out.

I am surprised when you say 5-10 pages.  Because I am new to this, I cannot even do a page yet, but I am just introducing general things on first contact to see if there is interest to start a relationship or not. But I suppose after the intials intros maybe letters will get much longer.  Hard for me to see at this point, but I believe it is possible.

Anyway, for coorespondence, I think in all future letters I will ask the inmate directly which way they prefer to communicate and then go with that.

Thank you!