Can You Send Pictures In Prison Letters?

By Prison Insight Staff

Updated: July 20, 2023

When you’re in prison, few things bring you as much joy as getting mail from friends and family. I can’t explain how happy it made me to hear my name during mail call and see a thick envelope filled with a long letter from a loved one filled with details about everything going on in the free world.

As you can imagine, there are some pretty strict rules when it comes to sending mail to an inmate in prison. Because correctional facilities have such a big problem with people sending in contraband in the most creative ways, many have cut down tremendously on what you can include in your inmate correspondence. Some prisons don’t even give prisoners their actual mail, and instead, give them photocopies.

Everything you send to an inmate in prison is opened and looked at by staff before it goes to the inmate. And, if you don’t follow the rules, your mail will be returned or destroyed. While the specific rules on inmate correspondence vary by facility, the rules when it comes to pictures are very similar.

So, let’s dive into today’s blog post: can you send pictures in prison letters?

In this blog post, I will cover the following topics:

  • What are the rules for federal inmates when it comes to getting pictures in the mail?
  • What are the mail rules for state inmates when it comes to getting pictures in the mail?

What are the rules for federal inmates when it comes to getting pictures in the mail?

You are allowed to send personal pictures to an inmate who is incarcerated in a federal prison, but they can’t include any sexually explicit material or nudity. According to BOP official policy, nude or sexually suggestive photos present a special concern for an inmate’s personal safety, security, and good order.

This is particularly true when the person in the photos is an inmate’s relative or friend, and this is why they are extremely strict with photos.

An inmate in federal prison is “not permitted to receive a personal photograph where the subject is nude, displays genitalia or female breasts, or when the photo depicts sexual suggestive acts.”

However, regular pics of family and friends are not only allowed, but encouraged. When an inmate has pictures of their family and friends to put on the wall or in their photobook, it makes their time prison a lot easier to handle. 

Just looking at a picture of a loved one can bring an inmate a sense of love and support, as well as something to look forward to on the outside.

There doesn’t seem to be a limit on the amount of pictures you can send at one time to an inmate in federal prison. Just remember to keep them tasteful.

What are the rules for state inmates when it comes to getting pictures in the mail?

The rules for nudity and sexually explicit photographs are the same in state prisons as they are in federal prisons. If you try to send something like that, the pictures will be destroyed or returned to you without the inmate getting their hands on them.

Inmates are usually allowed to keep up 50 photographs in their personal property, but they can’t be bigger than 8×10. Some prisons require that the pictures be no larger than 5×7, so you have to ask your incarcerated loved one about the specific rules in their facility. All inmates in both state and federal prisons get a handbook during the classification process, and they will have details about the amount of photos you can send at one time, and how large they can be.

One thing that is universal when it comes to sending pics to an inmate in prison is that Polaroid photographs are not allowed.

No matter if you are an inmate in a state facility or a federal facility, there is no doubt that getting mail from friends and family members is a big deal. On top of that, getting pictures was the best because it’s so nice to see familiar, friendly faces when you are inside prison walls.

When you are inside for a long time, it’s always nice to get regular updates about life on the outside. Pictures are the only way an inmate can see how everyone is changing and growing up.

Since it is so easy to print out pictures and drop them in the mail, I highly recommend that you send some to your incarcerated loved one. It will only cost you one stamp, and they will be extremely important to the inmate you are sending them to.

If you are a former inmate, did you have a special picture from a family member or loved one that helped you get through your incarceration? Let us know in the comments below.



  • 30 years for Marijuana? Sounds a bit excessive to me. Glad she got released in 2007!!!
    Natalie is an outing writer! I enjoyed reading her narrative about importance of family/letters & pictures.

  • Not sure where the information comes from that you use to write your articles, but Greene County, PA county jail and Prision neither allows prisioners to have color printed photos. All of them are black and white photo copies and according to my family member who is in the county awaiting transport to the state prision they are horrible, you can only see a smudge of an outline in some photos snd they (the staff) really don’t care either..

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