Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some common questions we get about writing to someone on the inside
All you have to do is “Click” on the “Create/Edit A Profile” tab located on the “Home Page” and fill out the application.
If you have problems loading pictures, you can send them to our email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Make sure you fill out all required information
When you make an online profile for your loved one, you will be able to choose what payment method you want to use. You can either use Cash App or Paypal. If you want to pay with a bankcard you should choose the Paypal alternative. It will take you to Paypal where you can use your bankcard.
If you want to pay for someone who has already sent the profile application/ upgrade to us, you can send the payment via Cash app: $PFpenpal or through PayPal: email@example.com. Your LO can also send us an institutional check or money order.
Yes. We are currently using PayPal and Cash App for an easy and fast check out experience. Both are secure online banking platforms.
Yes. Our members can request to cancel their membership at any time. However, this can not be done from the website, the member must submit the request in writing through the US Postal Mail or email. Once we verify their request, the profile will be removed immediately; however, their videos, blogs, artwork, etc… may still be used for promotional purposes. Please read our Terms of Service for more information.
We do not accept any applications where the inmate has crimes against minors. If a profile has been created for an inmate with a crime involving a minor, then the profile will be terminated immediately, and a letter will be sent to the inmate to explain this has happened. There will be no refund.
No. Once a profile is submitted and processed we don’t give any refunds. There are administrative costs and other expenses that prevent us from doing it.
There are 3 ways to write to a prisoner:
You can either send them a letter yourself using the address located at the bottom of their profile. This process can take a long time depending on where you live and the mailing system at the prison.
You can purchase stamps and message them through the facility’s email service. There is a link that will direct you to the correct website located on their profile. Using their institutional email is the most efficient way, but the rules pertaining to those services vary from state to state.
You can send a message through our messaging service which is located at the bottom of their profile. Again, this can take a long time as they can only reply via the postal service. Also be aware that we can not send an attached picture to all our members, it depends on the state or institutions rules where the prisoner resides. You can only use this feature once.
There are a variety of different institutional email companies but the most common for state prisons are JPay, Securus, Gettingout and Connectnetwork/GTL. Some states and all Federal prisons use corrlinks. Once you create your account and add your chosen inmate you will need to purchase stamps in order to send an email.
Each state has its own stamp package, but the cost can range from $2.50 to $12.50 plus. Each message you send costs 1 stamp. If you include any attachments, it’s 1 stamp per attachment. You also have the option to send a pre-paid reply to your inmate, this will allow them to reply for free, but it will cost you an extra stamp. If you sign up to the institution’s subscription email they usually provide different offers each month to money stamp packages or free pre-paid replies. There are different rules to what you are allowed to send depending on what state your pen pal is in. We recommend that you read the information on the institution’s website if you want to be sure about what you are allowed to send or not. If you aren’t sure, always use plain white paper, normal ink and write your contact information in the letter. Some institutions will not give the prisoners the envelopes. Don’t use stickers or perfume on your letter.
First, you have to set up an account with their institutional email service. There are several different companies that provide paid email services to our members, such as JPay.com, GTL/ConnectNetwork.com and Corrlinks (which is used mostly for Federal Prisoners). Secondly, you’ll need to purchase “email stamps” which cost around 20¢-30¢ each, but are usually bought in bundles of 15 or more. We understand that people have a problem paying for email services that are “free” to those on the outside; unfortunately, the prison system in the States is all about money and this financial burden comes at the expense of all those incarcerated and their family and friends.
If you reach out through us, yes you do need to give them your full contact information. Otherwise they will not be able to respond to you. If you have sent us a faulty address, we will NOT forward the message to the person you have chosen.
If you add them on their institutional email system they will not be able to see your home address. It will stay with the email provider when you sign up.
You can also choose external email providers where you can send messages and receive them. It works a bit differently from institutional email systems. With an external provider, you can send an email and they will print and send it to your pen pal as postal mail. Your pen pal can send you a letter which will be scanned and sent back to you as an email.
Once you have connected with one of our members you will be able to connect further if that’s something you would both like to happen. Phone calls and visits will now be an option. Your pen pal will be able to guide you through the institution’s rules.
In order to receive a call, you will need to provide the inmate with your number. Once they make the first call you will need to accept them on your call list. After you are approved, you will not need to go through the lengthy process each time. There is also an option to set up collect calls which means you can pay for the call instead of your Pen Pal. Each state differs on how this is set up, so you will need to check with the provider how this can be done.
Each state differs with the video visits rules. Note, that some states might not even allow a video visit. Some states require you to complete ID checks by filling out a visitation form and others will allow you to visit without checks. You will need to discuss the requirements with your Pen Pal. The cost of the video visit and the duration depend on the institution that they are in. There is the option to visit them at the institution, but you will need to be on their approved visitation list for in person visits.
If you would like to send gifts or money, once again the rules varies from state to state and at times institution to institution. Most of the time you will be required to be on their visitation list. We do recommend that you establish an honest and healthy relationship with your pen pal before you send anything to them.
You can talk to your Pen Pal on the phone, but you will need a local US number. This can be done using a VOIP service, i.e, Skype, TextMe, textPlus, etc… The price plan differs with each provider, and some are even free.
Video Visits – There really aren’t any difference than it would be if you lived in the states.
If you want to us the institutions email provider when writing to your pen paI, there are some differences. If you are downloading the app for Connectnetwork and live in the UK you will need to use a VPN as Connectnetwork will not register in the UK. Once you download it, you can use UK details and it will register. There are several different VPN’s available for your cell phone in the app stores.
If you’re using Jpay there is normally no complications when you purchasing stamps or connecting when you live outside US. If you have any problems with it, you might need to get a VPN and/ or use a 5 digit zip code to be able to connect electronically with your pen pal.
There are many reasons why your pen pal hasn’t replied yet. Most of the time it’s because of the screening process the incoming emails go through which could take anything from a few hours to a couple of days. Other potential reasons are: the kiosk could be down, Wi-Fi may be down, they could be on lock-down, or they simply do not have any stamps… It has been our experience that our members will respond almost 100% of the time.
Messages are processed and sent out WEEKLY to our members either by email or regular postal mail. It can take anything from a week onwards for you to receive a reply as the prisoner can only reply via postal mail. Please be patient. Some states allow the prisoners to add your email to their institutional email system, so be on the lookout in your inbox for an invite too.
If you haven’t provided us with your full contact information, we will not pass on your message to the person you are reaching out to.
WE AT PRISONFRIENDSHIP WANT TO THANK YOU FOR REACHING OUT TO THOSE WOMEN AND MEN INCARCERATED. THE SUPPORT AND ENCOURAGEMENT YOU GIVE MAKES A DIFFERENCE; NOT JUST IN THEIR LIFE, BUT IN YOURS TOO. BE PART OF THE SOLUTION! NEVER FORGET THAT IF YOU CHANGE A LIFE... YOU CHANGE THE WORLD.
We know that navigating the prison system can be complicated, so we welcome any questions you may have. for additional information on how to correspond with someone in prison, you can read more here.
There is a saying, “if you’ve been to one prison, you’ve been to one prison”. all of them are really very different. so if you need assistance, please contact us at the email address below: