How to Write to a Prison Inmate

Written by ehow legal editor
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Writing to a prisoner could help reduce the chances of him repeating criminal or antisocial behavior. Often, inmates lose contact with family and friends, and letters and emails may be the only contact they have with the outside world. If you don't know a prisoner, there are ways to find an incarcerated pen pal. Remember that establishing a relationship with an inmate takes commitment.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Find out the rules of the prison where the inmate is incarcerated. They each have specific guidelines.

  2. 2

    Write about yourself without giving too much personal information. Tell her about your hobbies, favorite foods or movies and your personal philosophies.

  3. 3

    State the type of relationship you're willing to have with the inmate. If you don't want any sort of romantic or suggestive relationship, establish that up front.

  4. 4

    Ask questions to keep the conversation going and to let the prisoner know you are truly interested in learning about him.

  5. 5

    Include your return address. It's a good idea not to use your personal street address. Open a Post Office box or correspond through a third party such as Prison Life or Write a Prisoner.

  6. 6

    Keep the correspondence going. Your prisoner will look forward to your correspondence.

  7. 7

    Sending tasteful photos is acceptable in most cases, but be careful not to include photos or information about your children.

Tips and warnings

  • You must be at least 18 to write prisoners via most services.
  • Report anything offensive, threatening or uncomfortable that the inmate tells you.
  • Don't be discouraged if you don't get a prompt reply. Mail moves slower in prison.
  • Avoid writing to more than one inmate from a prison. This can create tension between the inmates.
  • Don't send prohibited items, such as pornography, spiral-bound items, maps or anything that could be used as a weapon. Check the rules before sending anything more than a letter.

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