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Receiving Mail Query

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requiemforadream's picture
Receiving Mail Query

Hi everyone, 

I'm new to the site and am looking to reach out to a few inmates male/female for pen-pal friend connections. I was wondering if the enevlopes of the responses from the inmates will have information on it stating directly it's mail being received from a jail or federal prison on them ? Or will there just be the address of the prison/jail and the name of the respondent?  I currently rent a room in a 4 person house and the owner who's usually home before the rest of us brings in our mail. She's a bit of a snoop with the mail so I was just curious as what the envelope would have on it. I can't get a skybox/po box at the moment. But would generally like to reach out with positive notes to some new connections. Any further info would be great thanks. 

VioletGrey's picture

Requiem - that's awesome you're thinking of writing some people! 
As for the envelope situation, my PP is in Federal prison and there isn't any big stamp across his letters anymore like there used to be. Sometimes he'll use a facility envelope where the address is printed on and they just fill out their name and prison number so it stands out a bit more. But the letters I get are a lot more subtle looking these days. 
State facilities or even other Federal prisons might be different though. Boo to snoopy people though!

Jujay2014's picture

I actually received letter where it did say on the envelope itself that it was from a correctional facility and other letters where you couldn’t tell at all, so it does depend on the facility. Maybe, another way around it would be to reach out to someone you can write via Jpay or Corrlinks, then no on will be in your business. 

ST4s's picture

Hey requiem, good on you for thinking of folks who could really use some sunshine! I think it’s inevitable that something arriving in the mail from a state or federal prison will be discernable to a busybody sooner or later. In my case, I’ve used my office address for pen pal mail all along (because our mailman at home is a jerk and leaves the box open – it gets windy here and things blow away – and also since I’m the boss) (and you'd think I'd get another kind of mailbox at home, but, whatever). Usually, our super-cool office mailman walks the day’s stack straight to my desk and puts my buddies’ letters on top (like I said, super-cool), but that’s not always the case. Sometimes I’m out. The first time I missed mail call when an envelope came in from a correctional facility, with big neon letters across the front, one of my crew got the mail and got a little wigged out. So, I turned it into a teachable moment, explaining who this person is and why I’m doing this. Fast-forward a bit, said person is now volunteering at a books-behind-bars program of her own volition. (I have an awesome crew.)

Now, I realize not everyone is as open-minded. If you think it might be an issue, I think Jujay’s suggestion above is spot-on. With JPay and ConnectNetwork/GTL, you can do everything online or on your mobile device (maybe AccessCorrections too? I’ve never used it though), but you should know that some places aren’t set up to allow inmates to reply in kind, e.g. some can only reply by snail mail. With CorrLinks, especially for federal, there’s an initial snail mail step where you need to get your email address to the person you want to write.

Whatever you do, best wishes, and be confident that you’re making a huge difference!

Chiaretta's picture

Hi Requiem... sorry I'm "using" your post, but ST4s got me curious now: what is books-behind-bars about?

And again to you Requiem.. postal mail or Jpay, whatever you'll choose, my best wishes for your new adventure! :)

Farfromhome's picture

The States that my pen pals are in all say Inmate Correspondence. 
I agree that Jpay or Corrlinks would be a better option for you given the circumstances. 
Or you could use if you can afford it. It would be cheaper for you and your pp's to mail each other through, and quicker, but if you want them to reply to the address they give you, this comes at a monthly fee. They'll scan the letters for you to see. There are a few different subscription types through them depending on which features you wish to use. 

ST4s's picture

Books behind bars, in this case, is a stand-alone program run by a local non-profit. They accept donated books and ship them en masse to prison libraries around the country. They don’t ship directly to prisoners, although there are similar programs elsewhere that do.

requiemforadream's picture

Thanks to all that responded to my post. I truly appreciate the input and advice.  I just sent out my first email message last night here, i included my mailing address but let them know I can do Corrlinks as well as I just signed up. Oddly, I got an automatic email from this site stating the following: 

Your email to (inmate's name)  was not approved and will not be sent because we need your full mailing address to be able to process the message.Please consider sending this person an actual letter at the address provided. Thank you for your understanding.Sincerely,
Staff at

It seems as if it'll have to be snail mail for now or one of the other options to reach out. I put my full mailing address on my profile and it's automatically in the letter, coming from some much smaller islands we don't have a post code so i'm not sure why the site refused my mailing address to push the message through. Thanks to all the positive notes as well. The books behind bars initiative sounds awesome. There aren't such programs in my country but I've been able to donate a lot of my books both for general reading and for studies to some orphanages in my country. I've unfortunately had to stop visiting the orphanages and the retirement homes for a while due to this covid 19 pandemic. But hoping the snail mail option will pick up for me. 

dorismacphee's picture

I am new to this and am older and not computer savy - can you just hand write letters and send to the institution?  Also , do the prisons take care of the postage since I am writing to the USA from Canada ?

VioletGrey's picture

Hi Doris, 

Yes! You can write "old fashioned" letters with ink & paper for sure! You just need the inmates full name, their number and the prison address written clearly on the envelope, and your full name and mailing address for the return address. 

To answer your second question, the inmates themselves have to pay to send their letters so the postage is up to them. And from our end, it's the same as sending any other letter, put the appropriate value stamp and pop it in the postbox. 

Happy writing!