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How to Address an Envelope to an Inmate

Updated March 23, 2017

Many inmates serve time for various reasons, in county jails, prisons and other similar local, state or federal institutional facilities. Family members, friends and even pen pals desire communication with inmates via mail. By following a few steps, sending mail to incarcerated individuals is easy.

Call or log on to the respective state's Department of Corrections web page. Request the inmate's address and identification number from the DOC representative or input the inmate's information into the DOC search engine. Most institutions require the inmate's full name, sex and date of birth to access this information.

Gather the inmate's committed name, inmate identification number or DOC number and facility address. Call or check the institution's web page to confirm the facility's address.

Write your first and last name on the first line, of the upper left-hand corner of the envelope. Print the number and street name on the second line. On the third line, print the name of the city, followed by a comma. Skip one to two spaces and print either the state's full name or the two-letter abbreviation. Skip one or two spaces and write the five digit postcode.

Write the inmate's full name and identification number on the first line of the mailing address section, located in the middle of the envelope. Print the facility's name on the second line. On the third line, write the facility's street number and name. On the fourth line, print the name of the city, followed by a comma. Skip one to two spaces and print either the state's full name or the two-letter abbreviation. Skip one or two spaces and write the five digit postcode.

Place a postage stamp in the upper right-hand corner of the envelope. Send the letter via your local post office courier. Letters sent from other couriers, such as FedEx or UPS are usually prohibited. Although each facility has different steps for addressing an envelope, the overall process for gathering inmate information and sending letters is quite similar.

Tip

Some institutions require letters to be addressed with the inmate's last name first and the first name last. Call or check the state's DOC web page if you are unsure about whether the style or contents of your letter are permitted in the facility.

Warning

All letters are routinely opened, examined and read by specific staff members of the institution so consult the DOC's state web page or call and speak with a representative to find out what topics are both permissible and prohibited in letters.

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About the Author

Jalisa Summerville is a social worker and former high school occupational English teacher who began writing in 2006. She has written grants for nonprofit organizations serving underprivileged children. Summerville holds a Master of Social Work from East Carolina University.