There are 2 million inmates in the United States, and many of them rarely have contact with people outside of prison. Sure, they may have occasional visits, but for the most part, their only companions are other inmates. 

Writing letters to inmates keeps them connected, but how do you do it, and why would you want to? If you feel the need to reach out to an incarcerated loved one (or even a stranger), we’re here to help.

Read on to learn all about writing letters to inmates.

Why Would You Send a Letter to an Inmate?

While there are plenty of people in prison, many inmates are still lonely. It’s not uncommon to make friends in prison, but it’s normal to want to maintain contact with the “outside world” to maintain some semblance of normalcy.

This is even more important if the inmate that you’re writing to is a loved one. If they’re a partner, family member, or close friend, of course they’d want to stay in contact with you, even if you’re unable to visit them in person. 

Writing to an inmate is a great way to stay connected. 

Can You Send a Letter to an Inmate You Don’t Know? 

If you’re looking for a specific inmate, you can see here for how to find them, but did you know that you can write letters to inmates you’ve never met?

You don’t have to know an inmate to write a letter to them! You can actually go online to find prisoner profiles and write to one that seems interesting to you. This is how you get a prison pen pal. 

The people that sign up for the prison pen pal program may not have people “on the outside” who are able to stay in touch with them, or they just want a new friend. 

Many inmates appreciate letters from strangers, so if you find yourself with some free time, this is a great thing to do!

What Are the General Rules? 

There are rules associated with sending letters to inmates that you would never have to consider if you were sending a “normal” letter to a friend. If you want to ensure that your letter gets to the inmate, make sure that you follow the rules to a T.

Note that the specific prison that you’re writing to may have its own stipulations regarding envelope size and decorations. You usually cannot decorate the envelope or spray perfume on it.

You have to use the prisoner’s ID number as well as their full name (and your own) when you address a letter. You can not write anything that may be perceived as a secret code or anything that may be considered offensive. 

It’s best to keep the letters general. You can talk about things that are going on in your day-to-day life without going into too much detail and ask open-ended questions.

If you choose to send a book, make sure that it’s a paperback book. It’s best to send it from an actual bookstore rather than sending it yourself. 

Writing Letters to Inmates Is a Great Thing to Do

Writing letters to inmates helps them stay connected to the outside world.  It also gives them something to look forward to. Whether you’re writing to a loved one or a stranger, why not give it a try? 

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