Staying in connection with loved ones is critically important for inmates for the sake of their mental health and receiving information about their cases. Being incarcerated in jail or prison can take its toll on an inmate's spirit, and having communication restrictions can make it difficult to adequately prepare for trial.
For those who have a loved one in jail or prison, one of the best ways to support them through this difficult time is to keep all available communication lines open. Though inmates' communication channels are quite limited, there are a few ways for you to stay in touch.
Inmates will have access to phone, email, and the postal service. However, these channels are restricted by the jail or prison and often require money to use. We'll thoroughly go over these communication channels, so you can be better prepared for staying in contact with your loved ones in jail.
Communication Rights for Inmates
Inmates in jail have communication rights, which means that you should have a way of contacting your loved one while they are in jail. For those who are encountering problems with their communication rights, filing a formal grievance is the best way to approach the issue.
However, it's important to remember for inmates and their loved ones to follow all jail communication rules fully. Failure to do so could mean harsh consequences. From getting communication rights further restricted or even jail time, you'll want to follow all guidelines and rules carefully.
Phone calls are a common form of communication in jails and prisons. They are popular amongst inmates and their loved ones as it gives inmates a connection to their outside life. Many inmates talk about how hearing their family member saying "I love you" on a phone call boosts their spirits.
Even though phone calls are essential to inmates' well-being, communicating through phone calls can be limiting. They are typically monitored and restricted, but it's a simple way for inmates to talk with their loved ones or legal representation. Phone communication within the jail system can be costly though. Depending on the jail, you may have to spend money to talk with your loved one on the phone.
There are restrictions on inmates' phone usage, which is why they'll need to prepare a list of phone numbers to get approved by the jail. Once that happens, they'll be able to call their loved ones through a few different types of calls, including collect, pre-paid collect, and debit.
When an inmate contacts you through a collect call, the charge for this call will fall onto you. With a prepaid collect call, an inmate may call you through a pre-paid account. You'll be able to load a pre-set amount of money onto the account and add funds as you may need them. A debit call works much the same way as a prepaid collect call, however, the charges are paid by the inmate. With this method, an inmate can call many different numbers using the funds on the account.
As technology has evolved in recent years, so has communication in jails and prisons. In select jails and prisons, you may be able to send an inmate information via the internet. Email communication isn't as commonly accepted as phone calls or physical mail, but some jails allow this form of communication.
However, it's not quite like using email in the outside world. When you use email in the outside world, there is no cost for sending an email. You'll be able to send as many messages as you want while connected to the internet. In contrast, to send an electronic message to an inmate, there are typically fees involved to send an electronic message just like there would be with a phone call. Additionally, you won't be sending emails through services like Gmail. You'll have to use special software to send messages, which is strictly monitored by the jail staff.
Sending Physical Mail
Sending physical mail is another popular option for connecting inmates with the outside world. Sending a handwritten card is a simple but effective way for inmates to stay in touch with their lives outside of jail. Having a physical letter in their hands is much more personal than an electronic message. Having that physical connection via physical mail can have positive effects on the inmate and help with their reintegration into society upon release.
Of course, physical mail is highly restrictive and monitored for the safety of everyone in the jail. You'll need to follow all of the rules given by a jail when you send an inmate information via the postal service. Some of the precautions that jails and prisons take with physical mail include inspecting and reading all inmate information that is sent or received. This is to prevent criminal activity from occurring inside the jail. The exception to this rule is inmate communication with their legal counsel. If an inmate receives mail from their lawyer, it will only be inspected but not read.
Communication is an essential part of keeping an inmate's spirit up. Getting an inmate information they need is also critical for those not yet convicted. If your loved one is currently incarcerated, it's a good idea to find ways of keeping them engaged with the outside world. Depending on your budget, there are several means of communication that you can use, including phone calls, electronic messages, and physical mail. If you want to learn more about specific inmate information, check out the jail or inmate searches to find out how to communicate with a specific person.