How to Find an Inmate Penpal

Updated March 21, 2017

Writing to an inmate can be a great way to help boost his morale and encourage him to complete studies or other programs as he attempts to rehabilitate into civilian life. The experience can be rewarding for both you and the prisoner, and it is relatively easy to do.

Decide why you want to write to a prisoner. Are you looking for romance or simply to lift morale? It is best to be upfront when writing, because some prisoners are looking for a potential mate.

Log on to a website like or, where inmate profiles are posted. All of these services are free. Both sites include inmates looking for romantic connections or platonic connections.

Browse a few profiles. Some prisoner penpal programs will tell you what crime the prisoners have committed, if they are on death row or their release date, while others keep this information private.

Contact the prisoner or prisoners of your choice. The website will indicate if the prisoner has access to e-mail. If so, you can drop her a line electronically. Although most prisoners do not have access to the Internet, some sites will let you send them an e-mail and then deliver a hard copy to the inmate. The mailing address is usually listed as well, so you can send a letter the old-fashioned way.

Establish a relationship with the prisoner. Write to him about your daily life and ask about his. Discuss your likes and dislikes. As his release date draws nearer (if there is one), you may become a helpful resource for discussing post-prison life and bouncing off ideas for their future. If he is not going to be released, your letters are a valuable and encouraging connection to "the outside."


These programs are intended for those over the age of 18. Do not enlist children in these programs. If a prisoner makes you feel uncomfortable, stop contact with him or her right away. Do not be too forthcoming with personal information such as your last name, phone number or address.

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About the Author

Writing since 2008, Fiona Miller has taught English in Eastern Europe and also teaches kids in New York schools about the Holocaust. Her work can be found on, ConnectED and various other Web sites. Miller holds a B.A. in French from Chapman University and an M.A. in educational theater from New York University.