Tips for Talking to an Inmate on the Phone

Tips for Talking to an Inmate on the Phone

When a friend or family member is arrested, it can be a jarring experience. Suddenly, your contact is limited, your daily time together is over, and other unexpected changes. However, one of the most startling changes is that your time talking together suddenly becomes not entirely your own, and you’re left wondering: can you call an inmate?

Once your friend or loved one has been processed into the system and you know where they’re at, thanks to an inmate search, you will want to get back into contact as soon as possible. That’s completely normal. This is your loved one, after all! What you need to prepare for, though, is that things will not be the same as they were before. 

Your Call Is Being Recorded, and Yes, They’re Listening

The short answer to the question “can you call an inmate” is, in short, no. However, an inmate within the prison system can call you. There are many rules and regulations that go along with this, though, and you need to be prepared for these eventualities.

Once you’ve done an inmate search and know exactly where your loved one is, you’ll likely be over the moon that you’re able to speak with them again. However, ensure that you keep this notion in the back of your mind when you talk to them. 

Something that may simultaneously surprise you and not surprise you is that calls are heavily monitored when you converse with an inmate on the phone. All of these calls are recorded and monitored by the prison system. Don’t think that you are on a private line when you speak to an inmate on the phone. 

Watch What You’re Saying

Along the same lines, you need to know that anyone can listen to the recording from the phone. Phone calls from prisons can and have appeared in court during trials, parole hearings, and more. There have even been cases where a friend or family member was arrested due to what was said on the phone. 

Do not think that speaking in a code or using subversive phrasing will exonerate you from wrongdoing should you be caught talking about something illegal on the phone. Everyone, including a judge, prosecutor, or parole officer, will notice this phrasing. 

Instead, be very cognizant of what you say. You don’t want to end up on an inmate search or an inmate list yourself!

Do Not Talk About the Case

If your loved one is awaiting trial, something that is of vital importance to know is to not talk about the case. Do not answer any questions that they may have about the subject. Do not tell them about any evidence or documentation. Anything that you say or that they say on the call about the case has the possibility of condemning them to a longer sentence. 

If your loved one is insistent on getting more information about the case, then encourage them to speak with their attorney instead of with you. That way, the information can be relayed through private channels, and there is no risk of you or your loved one suffering the potential consequences. 

Group Calls are Not Allowed

Group calls are a big no-no when speaking to an inmate on the phone. Even if you attempt a group conversation, many inmate calling systems will have a detection service for an additionally connected call. Even if an inmate asks you to patch in a third person to the call, don’t do so. This is illegal, and the call will likely be immediately terminated. Don’t get yourself into hot water by doing so!

Be Prepared

An inmate typically has a list of people they are preapproved to speak with. If you aren’t receiving calls from your loved one in prison, make sure you’re on this approved call list. Do an inmate search to check for your loved one’s prison, and check that prison’s website to see if there are any additional rules. 

Inmates also call collect or use a prepaid service to make the call. Collect calls can only be made to a landline, so if you only have a cell phone, ensure that your loved one has money in their calling account so that they can call your cell phone. In addition, make sure that your cell phone does not automatically block collect calls or potential spam calls; otherwise, you may miss a call from your loved one. 

Before scheduling a call, try to make a list of items to talk about. Because inmates have to pay for their phone time, you need to use your time wisely. Discuss important topics they need to know, but be sure to avoid any potential cases, incriminating evidence, etc. Making a list is an excellent way to ensure that you follow these parameters. 

Set Firm Boundaries

It might be challenging, but you need to set firm boundaries with your loved one. If they continue to ask you for details about the case, want to discuss potentially incriminating topics, or anything else, you need to shut down the conversation immediately. You don’t want to be arrested yourself for something that you had nothing to do with! 

You must keep these boundaries firm. Do not allow for any wiggle room at all. If your loved one continues to press, you should simply hang up. Maintaining these boundaries is difficult, especially for loved ones, but you do not want to face any potential consequences either. 

Jail Exchange

Here at Jail Exchange, we understand how difficult it is to have a loved one in prison. It’s a massive adjustment that completely changes your daily life and interactions with that loved one.

On top of offering an inmate search feature and inmate list feature for prisons across the country, Jail Exchange also provides the answers to many frequently asked questions. We are happy to help in any way we can during this difficult time in your life. Check out Jail Exchange today for these resources.