Prison Pen Pal 101 - A free guide on how you can make a lasting inmate connection

Prison Pen Pal 101 - A free guide on how you can make a lasting inmate connection

How To Make Contact, Stay In Touch And A Few Other Things You Need To Know…

So you’re ready to start corresponding with a new prison pen pal, but need to know how to navigate the various forms of communication? We’re here to help!

If you found your potential prison pen pal through this website, you can use the PF Messaging tab at the bottom of each profile to send a quick message. That message comes to our servers, we print it and drop it into US Mail for delivery to our member(s) OR if we are on their email contacts, we will send them your message via email. We send out messages once a week. So it might take a little time before you hear back from them if you use our service. 

How prison email works

If you’re looking for a quicker way to communicate, set up an account with their email provider. There is a link on their profile page which will take you directly to there., or Corrlinks are the most common ones, but there are several different ones. It will cost a few cents per email, but you will more than likely hear back from your pen pal the same day.

Emails are sent to your prison pen pal’s personal tablet and are available to him or her whenever they link up their tablet to a kiosk located in their housing unit. Nowadays, some prisons even have WiFi, so an immediate response is almost always guaranteed. Different facilities allow prisoners to link up to the kiosk a certain amount of times per day. Depending on the time you send your message, they will most likely get it within 2-3 hours. You can expect them to write back more sooner than later most of the time.

Signing up for these email providers is simple and secure. Follow the link on the bottom of your potential pen pal’s profile or just go to,, Corrlinks, Securus, or Gettingout, depending on which email provider the state is using. You can also download the Jpay app on ITunes or Google Play. Enter the state & prison ID number and sign up for an account. Charges vary by state. For example, if your pen pal is in Ohio ythe rate for stamps are 15  for $4.50, 30 (stamps) emails for $7.50 or 60 for $12.00. Each page of your email will cost 1 stamp and each photo you attach will also cost 1 stamp. 

Prison pen pal email
Image by Daniel Agrelo from Pixabay

Write a letter to someone in prison

If you’re the old fashioned type and wish to write a letter, go right ahead. You may want to check the website of the facility to verify any rules to mail correspondence. There are always rules! Limits on the number of photos, color of the envelope, you name it… there’s a rule for it. So check online before you send a letter or keep it simple: use regular white paper & white envelope, use normal ink pens, no perfume or stickers, write your contact information in the letter and you should be just fine. 

Talking to your pen pal

Now let’s talk about what to say to your prison pen pal. Writing to someone new can be difficult. Re-read the profile and see what things you have in common. Keep your conversation positive & friendly and you should be off to a good start. Introduce yourself just as you would anyone else you might meet. You may have questions about the crime they committed, but keep those on hold for a bit while you get to know the person. Of course you have the right to ask, but let that come out as you get to know each other. 

If you take the time to delve into the mind and heart of your new friend you will probably be amazed at the intelligence, warmth and sincerity of the person. As your friendship grows you will both end up sharing many thoughts, secrets and experiences. Take the time to share things about yourself, your likes, your career, your hometown, your favorite books, movies, or music. Find common ground and build from there. Unfortunately, there are scammers out there. So please use caution & common sense as with meeting any new person.

If you find that you do not have anything in common… let them know. It’s better to be honest in the beginning, even if it may hurt the person you reached out to. Disappearing without a word can be heartbreaking for anyone, especially someone who has little contact with the outside world. So if you decide that you don’t want to correspond anymore, please let them know. We should all treat others as you would want to be treated.

Prison Pen Pal writing letters
Image by Deborah Hudson from Pixabay

Other ways to communicate with a prisoner

As your friendship progresses you may want to explore the possibility of telephone communication. It’s best to discuss this with your new friend, so they can give you the details on how to start the process. Most facilities use GTL. However, some use, which now owns Jpay. Phone calls are limited and each facility has its own rules; however, for example, calls from an Ohio prisoner through GTL require a minimum $15.00 deposit. Calls then come off that balance at the rate of about .2 cents per minute. 

Pen pals can also make calls that are FREE to you, but are paid for with funds from their own phone accounts (if they have available funds). Various institutions and states all have different rates, so check with the DRC website for the facility you are inquiring about and you should find all the pertinent information there.

Other ideas and ways of reaching out are gifts. We’re not talking about sending money, but everyone loves a surprise from a thoughtful friend. One way to send a little love without breaking the bank is by sending books through Amazon or purchasing music/media through Jpay or GTL. Books cost as little as a couple dollars. If you have Amazon prime the shipping is FREE!

Whether you have a few minutes or endless hours to fill, whether you can afford a postage stamp or not, we will help get your correspondence started. Don’t let the opportunity for a new friendship pass you by. There is someone out there who is waiting to hear from you.

Prison Pen Pal Phonecall
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Do you have more questions about being a prison pen pal?

Best of luck on your journey of friendship with your prison pen pal. If you have any questions or would like to share your experiences with your pen pal, please feel free to send us an email or visit our FAQ page fore more information

**We are not affiliated nor compensated by Jpay or GTL. The information provided here is simply to help you and our members have easy messaging capabilities. There is a cost for ALL things within the prison system, communication included. We often take for granted that we can communicate through email both instantly and without cost, this is not the case for our friends & loved ones in prison.**