How to Send an Inmate Care Package

How to Send an Inmate Care Package

Do you want to send an inmate care package to your loved one?

Prison can take a toll on a person as it keeps one away from the people they love the most. Research links feelings of loneliness and social isolation to adverse health effects including depression, sleep issues, impaired immunity, cognitive decline, and impaired executive function.

Help the inmate in your life stay healthier while away by sending them something that connects them to you. Keep reading to learn how to send an awesome care package.

Locate Them

Locate the inmate you want to send something to with an inmate search. When a person goes away, you do not necessarily know where they will carry out their sentence.

In each state, there are a number of institutions. Sometimes, due to issues with space or the need for separation from specific inmates, they may even send the person far away.

You can use their first and last name in a search bar to find them. Be aware you may find duplicates with common names.

For instance, you may find many John Smiths or Mary Johnsons. Using their inmate number ensures you reach the correct person.

Not sure about this number? Find it on the return address of letters they send you.

Learn the Rules

You can't send whatever you want to an inmate. Rules help keep everybody safe and prevent illegal exchanges. Not following the rules leads to returned packages. 

For instance, you can't send sharp objects that can potentially be used as weapons. Even utensils, like forks, can only be made of plastic.

Uniform policy may also forbid certain colored garments. This prevents gang activity and attempts to keep equal status among inmates.

Ask about the weight limit for packages prior to sending stuff. Also, understand that inmates can only possess a certain number of items.

Use Pre-Approved Vendors

You can't send packaged items directly from your home, but you can select what to send from pre-approved vendors.

These are a few of the vendors, however each vendor must be approved by the specific jail or prison where your inmate is incarcerated:


Each offers a list of different items that you may choose to send. While you have some freedom to choose which items are included, every item has to be picked from a pre-approved list.

Vendors assure that only safe packaged items get sent. This keeps everything legal and makes sure the person you care about receives their goods in a timely manner.

Send Money

Inmates can buy things in both jail and prison. Money gives them the opportunity to grab things they want and need.

Commissary allows them to purchase things like extra food, sodas, cigarettes, headphones, shoes, personal hygiene products, and more. This helps make them a little more comfortable.

Write a Letter

When sending a package to inmates, write a letter. This communication means a lot.

On the inside, they miss out on everything. Make them feel a part of it all by sharing details about people and events they care about.

Keep it positive. Upsetting news or arguments can cause anxiety and a feeling of helplessness.

Take Pictures

Pictures can make a care package extra special for the person you love. Most prisons only allow five photographs of certain sizes sent together. 

You may not be able to send polaroids at all, to prevent illegal activity. Prisons also forbid pictures of the inmate as others may use them for illegal purposes.

Do not send nudes or any explicit content. Only send wholesome pictures of friends, family, and pets so that they can feel connected to the people they love.

Incorporate Reading Material

Prison leaves people with a lot of time to fill. Reading can help them escape to other places in their mind, learn new things, and work on self-improvement.

Send paperback books based on their interests. Ask if they prefer to get lost in fantasy land or pick up new skills.

You must ship them directly from the bookstore and not from your home. You might also send care packages that include new issues of their favorite magazines to keep them current.

Court Clothing

Is your loved one awaiting a court date? One of the most useful things you can send to prisoners in this situation is clothes for their hearing.

For court, they need something that fits well and looks presentable. Think dressy but not over the top.

Stick with a conservative look. Send something they may wear to church, but no open footwear.

You probably won't have the option to send belts or ties. These items can assist in suicide or harming other prisoners.

When to Send Care Packages

You may want to show this person that you love them. Unfortunately, most facilities limit the number of care packages that a prisoner can receive.

Look up the rules for their prison, or assume no more than one package per month. Try to send the packages during times they may need your care the most.

For instance, birthdays and other big holidays may feel especially lonely. After learning of a loved one's passing, they may also need a little pick me up.

Sending a care package containing special gifts like clothing close to their court date serves a very practical purpose. But, it also lifts their spirits and helps them mentally prepare for their hearing.

Inmates Need Care Too

Everybody deserves care. While they serve their time, give them hope, love, and a reason to better their lives by sending an inmate care package from time to time.

Staying connected will help you cope as well, and that's why we're here to help. Find the facility holding somebody you love, so you can keep in contact.