Merrimac Center Inmate Phone & Email

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Merrimac Center

9300 Merrimac Trail
Williamsburg, VA 23185


Merrimac Center Inmate Phone Service - Registering and Cost

An inmate in the Merrimac Center can call you using one or more of the following three methods, however during booking the facility allows each offender at least one free call to a friend, family member or bond company.

1.    If your phone service - usually your land line - accepts collect calls, then they can call you collect. Note: Mobile phones don't usually accept collect calls.

2.    The Merrimac Center's commissary will sell your inmate a pre-paid calling card that they can use to phone you or others.

3.    The inmate can call you using credits or money that you or someone else purchases from the facility’s inmate phone service. Call to get information on how to set this up by phone or online.

When your inmate is booked into the Merrimac Center, they provide the jail a list of a limited number of people that they will allow to visit them and receive their phone calls. These must first be approved by the facility.

Further information, including cost, daily phone call limits and times of the day and evening when calls can be made, including a complete list of Frequently Asked Questions and Answers, is below.

Inmate Phone Calling Services - Third Party Vendors that work with Jails

There are dozens of third-party for profit companies working with Merrimac Center and other jails in Virginia to provide a way for inmates to phone friends and families at rates that are much less than what jails have been known to charge in the past.

The lower rates come at a cost to inmates though, as most of the profit from these calls pay for other benefits such as television and both indoor and outdoor recreational services from board games to sports and workout equipment.

To find out what phone service is being used for inmates housed in Essex County, call , or if the phone service is not noted above, click on one of these companies below, each of which provide service for jails in the state of Virginia:


How Does An Inmate Make A Phone Call From Merrimac Center?

Collect Calls

  • Almost every jail, including Merrimac Center, will allow inmates to contact pre-approved friends and family members' phones by calling collect.
  • Calling collect is typically the most expensive way to contact people by phone and in many cases, it requires credit approval or a deposit to be made into a third-party phone company account through a contract with the jail.

Direct Calls

  • Many jails are now contracting with a third party service (for a fee) that is less expensive and allows your inmate to use their phone system to make direct calls to your land line or cell phone.
  • To find out about Merrimac Center phone services, call  or review the information on the Inmate Phone page.
  • Some jails also allow sell phone cards directly to an inmate in the jail commissary store.


Can I call an inmate in the Merrimac Center?

No, you cannot call an inmate in the Merrimac Center. You can however call , or search online to see if your inmate is in custody.

When an offender is first arrested and is being booked into jail, they are allowed one or two free phone calls to notify friends or family of their situation. If they are unable to notify someone at that point, they can try again, this time it will be a collect call that you will have to pay for if your phone service allows you to receive collect calls, once they are classified, processed, dressed and brought to their unit.

However, if the phone they call is a cell phone, which normally do not allow the receipt of collect calls, or your phone service does not allow for collect calls, then you will not be able to receive any phone calls from them until you purchase phone credits from the Merrimac Center’s inmate calling system. 

The information for this is located above, at the top of this page. If that information is missing, it is because the facility recently changed companies and you can get the details by calling .

Can I leave a message for an inmate in the Merrimac Center?

It is rare that a jail (or prison) will accept messages for an inmate.  Of all the thousands of jails in the United States there are probably less than one hundred that have a message line.
There are two exceptions to this rule:

1.    Merrimac Center will accept a message if there is a family emergency such as a death in the family. In a case like this the message will be conveyed by a jail chaplain or someone that is very high ranking in leadership. Inmates are already under a lot of stress and emotion, and the staff realizes this. It is for this reason they will be very careful how they pass the message along and being watchful afterwards.

2.    Many of the inmate phone systems used by jails allow for messages to be left for a small fee, usually less than $1.00 for a minute. It is done in the form of a voicemail from you. To see if Merrimac Center offers that service call the phone company at the top of this page or call the jail at .

Can an inmate in the Merrimac Center call me?

Yes, an inmate in the Merrimac Center can call you using any of the following three ways:

1.    The inmate can call you ‘collect’ if your phone service accepts collect calls.

2.    The inmate can call you using a prepaid calling card that they can purchase from the jail’s inmate commissary. 

3.    The inmate can call you using credits or money that you or someone else purchases from the jail’s inmate phone service. This information can be found at the top of this page.

If you can’t find the jail’s phone service, it means that they may have recently changed it. Call the jail at to get the information you need.

Also, it is becoming standard that when an inmate is booked in jail, they must make a list of a limited number of people that they will allow to visit them and/or make phone calls to. If the Merrimac Center requires this, then you will have to be on their list to receive phone calls.

Can an inmate in the Merrimac Center call their friends?

Yes. If a person is on the inmate’s approved phone contact list and the person accepts a collect call or the inmate has funds on their prepaid card or phone account, there are no restrictions based on whether the person and inmate are related or not.

The only exception to that is if you, as the person who funds their inmate phone account, puts restrictions on the account, so that the account can only be used to communicate with you and not other people. This allows you and not the Merrimac Center to control who the inmate can speak with.

How do I accept collect calls from an inmate in the Merrimac Center?

When you receive a collect call from a jail, you will first hear a recording that the call is a collect call and coming from a jail and the person’s spoken name. You will then be asked to respond with a prompt or by voicing “yes” that you agree to accept the call. At that point you can either accept it or refuse it.

If you continue to get calls from the jail and don’t want to receive them anymore, you can contact your phone service and request that that number be blocked.

How much am I charged for accepting a collect call from Merrimac Center?

The cost of a collect call is the most expensive call that you can make (or take). In fact, the cost (per minute) for a collect call can exceed the cost of an international call.

Expect to pay about $1.00 to 1.50 per minute for a collect call. Compared to the cost of a call going through the inmate phone service that the jail contracts with, ‘collect calls’ can be five to ten times more expensive.

Who should I contact if I’m having difficulty receiving collect calls from the jail or prison?

If you are having difficulties receiving collect calls from the Merrimac Center contact your own phone service.  Keep in mind that your land line service provider is not the same as your sell service provider.

How much does it cost for an inmate in the Merrimac Center to call me?

The federal government limits the cost of a phone call from a jail in the United States to $0.21 per minute. This is true whether the inmate is using a prepaid card or one of their friends or family members have contracted with a phone service that the jail recommends.

In general, most of these companies are honest and trustworthy.  The complete list can be found by scrolling down this page further.

There are independent companies that you can find and purchase phone time from that have fees as low as $0.05 to $0.10 per minute.  They usually accomplish this by selling you blocks of time that you may never use, or they have exorbitant fees in other areas. Be a smart consumer and study these offers carefully.

What times are inmates in the Merrimac Center allowed to make phone calls?

In general, inmates in the Merrimac Center can make phone calls between the time when breakfast ends until ‘lights out’ at the end of the evening. 

They will not allow phone calls to be made during meals, head counts or during shift changes.

Inmates who are workers (trustees), are on work release or have other responsibilities are also limited to when they can make phone calls, as their schedules take priority over personal time.

In general, other than during the scheduled events noted above, you can communicate by phone between the hours of 7:30AM and 10:00PM.

How often can inmates in the Merrimac Center make phone calls?

There is no limit to how often an inmate can make phone calls. They are limited only by how much money you are willing to give them to add phone time.

When and if there are limits, the limits never apply to phone time with their lawyer or legal matters related to their criminal court case.

There are some jails and prisons that limit how much an inmate can spend on phone calls, specifically inmates in the United States Bureau of Prisons, which limits federal prisoners to a $300 spend every month.

What is the inmate telephone service for the Merrimac Center?

The inmate telephone service for this facility can be found at the top of this page. If the information is missing that means that the facility recently changed carriers and has not updated the information. In that case, call the jail at to get the answers to your questions.

What are the phone companies that facilitate phone calls with jails and prisons? 

Each of these phone companies provide similar services, and each cannot charge more than $0.021 per minute for domestic calls, however it is a very competitive industry due to the size of the market in which their customers are literally ‘captive’ in every sense of the word.

Amtel Phones
City Tele Coin
Correct Solutions Group
Correct Pay
Inmate Canteen
Inmate Sales
Lattice (nexus telephone)
Prodigy Solutions
Smart Communications

Can an inmate text me from the phones in the Merrimac Center

No. Inmates in the Merrimac Center cannot text from the phones, but more and more jails are bringing in a text service for inmates that can work from kiosks and tablets in their units. For more information, check out this jail’s email and text page.

Can an inmate in the Merrimac Center buy calling cards?

Almost every jail gives inmates and their contacts to either purchase calling cards from commissary or buy phone credits and time online from a phone service. There remain a few jails that still only allow collect calls which is an unfair financial burden on inmates and their families.

To see if Merrimac Center allows the purchase of phone cards, check the information at the top of this page or call the jail at .

What is the most that an inmate in the Merrimac Center can spend on phone calls?

There is no limit to how often an inmate can make phone calls. They are limited only by how much money you are willing to give them to add phone time.

There are some jails and prisons that limit how much an inmate can spend on phone calls, specifically inmates in the United States Bureau of Prisons, which limits federal prisoners to a $300 spend every month, however during the holiday months that number is increased to $400 per month.

Do I need a credit card to purchase phone credits for an inmate in the Merrimac Center?

Of the dozens of phone companies listed above that do business with the jails and prisons, there are only a few that have a way for you to use cash to purchase phone credits or phone time from them, usually in an ATM machine at check cashing outlets, and only a couple that have a way for you to fund an inmate phone account by mailing them a money order or cashier check.

If you don’t have a credit or debit card from a bank, you can always get a prepaid one at thousands of check cashing locations across the country.

Most jails also have a way for inmates to purchase prepaid phone cards from their commissary. These jails usually allow the inmate’s trust account to be funded with postal money orders, negating the need for having a credit or debit card altogether. 

Call to see if your Merrimac Center’s commissary has prepaid phone cards.

What is the difference between a phone call and a video call?

A video call is no different than a video visit. It allows both the inmate and their approved contacts to see each other during the conversation. This is becoming the preferred method for inmates and their friends and family members to communicate, as visual contact communicates on a different level than just the voice.

Jails and prisons that have the option of video calls and video visits also most likely have handheld tablets for inmate use. This gives the inmate the ability to communicate from their cell or a remote corner of the unit, which adds a level of privacy that a kiosk on the wall does not offer.

To see if Merrimac Center offers video calls, go to the top of this page or the Visitation page for information. If you can’t find it there, it may be because this facility recently changed companies, so you can call them at for details on how to arrange video calls.

Can inmates in the Merrimac Center use their cell phone?

No, they cannot use their cell phone. 

Inmates have their cell phones taken from them when they are initially booked into jail and will not get them back until they are released, provided the phone is/was not kept by the arresting agency as evidence in a criminal investigation.

Is it illegal for an inmate to use a cell phone in the Merrimac Center?

Cell phones are considered contraband and a security risk to a jail or prison. All communication: Written, spoken or video, other than an inmate’s communication with their lawyer, are monitored by the facility.

If an inmate is caught with a cell phone that has somehow been smuggled into a jail, the inmate will be charged with a crime. It is considered more serious than being caught with drugs, as a cell phone can be used to intimidate potential witnesses, arrange an escape or run a criminal enterprise outside of the jail’s walls.

Can I get in trouble for accepting a call from an inmate using a cell phone in the Merrimac Center?

It is unlikely that you can get charged with a crime for communicating with an inmate using a cell phone while incarcerated in the Merrimac Center.

That said, if it is found that you knowingly were doing it, you could have your visitation or phone privileges suspended, or even permanently terminated by the jail.

If you were involved in the smuggling of the phone, that is a criminal offense, as it may be if you were adding ‘minutes’ onto a prepaid phone that you knew was smuggled into the jail and was being used for illegal purposes.

Can I Communicate By Email With An Inmate?

  • A growing number of jails now offer email services to inmates and their families.
  • This can save you time by letting you view your email from your smart phone, computer, or tablet, whenever you wish.
  • You don't have to deal with envelopes, stamps or the post office.
  • Inmates like it because the emails typically eliminate delayed mail runs so they can get your correspondence quickly and send responses immediately.
  • Jail staffs like it as it eliminates concerns about contraband entering the facility in envelopes and on paper. It also allows the jail to have an electronic record that can be called upon at any time.
  • Anything you or your inmate writes in an email service is put through a filtering program that looks for certain words related to criminal and/or gang activities.
  • There have been multiple cases in which emails between inmates and their friends or loved ones have been used as evidence in criminal court cases to convict them or to file new charges.
  • Call to see if email services are being offered at the Merrimac Center and if so, how to sign up you and your inmate.


Important Tips About Jail Phone Calls

If you were unable to find the information you were looking for on this page, call Merrimac Center at and ask their policies on getting phone calls from your inmate.

Many jails and prisons are increasingly restricting the amount of time that an inmate can use the phone by placing daily and monthly limits, so try to pace yourself and not use up all your time at the beginning of the month.

Jails limit an inmate's phone time to certain hours of the day, so it is important you keep a regular schedule that works for both you and your inmate.

If your inmate does not call you during the time you both have scheduled, don't panic. There are often long lines for phone use. When a jail is on lockdown due to a fight or other security issue they do not allow the phones to be used.

Phones are the only way for an inmate to hear your voice and temporarily 'escape' the loneliness of incarceration, so use your time well. Arguing about anything will leave you both feeling empty and guilty, so avoid it at all costs.

All phone conversations are recorded. Whatever you talk about, can and will be used against your inmate in court. Never discuss their pending criminal case!

Also, be warned that some phone providers are collecting voice prints for a database which law enforcement agencies are building.

Go to the official jail website for additional information. 

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