How do You Email an Inmate?

By Prison Insight Staff

Updated: September 17, 2019

It’s no secret that we live in a world dominated by electronic communication. From texts to emails to social media apps, constant communication via our phones, computers, and tablets is how many of us live our lives these days.

But, when you are in prison, you have no internet access, and until recently, electronic devices were also prohibited (more on that in a minute). If you get caught with a cell phone, you will get into a lot of trouble. Usually, it means you will go to the hole, which is prison slang for solitary confinement or administrative segregation.

However, when you are a prison inmate you can still get emails, but there is a process to it. So, that leads us to today’s question: How do you email an inmate?

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

  • How do inmates get emails?
  • How to email an inmate for free?
  • When do inmates get JPay emails?

How do inmates get emails?

Until recently, the only way an inmate could get emails was at mail call. Friends and family use a service like JPay or Access Corrections to write an email to their incarcerated loved one. Then, the emails are sent to the prison and the mail staff prints the emails out. The inmate receives the print out at mail call.

You have to know the facility your inmate is housed in, as well as their inmate ID number. And, you will also have to sign up for an account with whichever service you use. You will also need a debit or credit card.

Now, many prisons are giving their inmates (or their family and friends) the option of buying a tablet. Depending on the facility, you either send the inmate money to buy the tablet or you buy the tablet through JPay, and it will be sent to the inmate.

Either way, many inmates can have a tablet (which doesn’t have internet access), and they can read the emails you send them on their device. The tablets also have other features like downloading music, games, and ebooks and renting movies. 

Of course, all of these features come with a price and the fees do vary based on the company, the service, and the facility.

How to email an inmate for free

When it comes to prison, nothing is free. Any product or service is going to cost you, and there is usually an insane markup on the price. Emails are actually one of the most affordable things you can buy in prison. The price to send one email is usually less than the cost of a stamp, somewhere between 25 and 50 cents. Most of the time, they allow you to attach a picture to the email if you would like to use that option.

When do inmates get JPay emails?

Inmates get emails from JPay at mail call, and the times vary based on the facility, security level, and housing unit. Some prisons hand out emails daily, while others might do it week twice a week or weekly. It really just depends.

For inmates who have tablets, they will have the opportunity to download emails, music, games, books, movies, etc…usually once a week. But again, this varies based on the prison.

JPay, a Florida-based company is really taking over the prison industry when it comes to communication between prisoners and their loved ones. Some prisons only offer JPay as an option to send money, write an email, have a video visit, make phone calls, or buy a tablet. 

The fees associated with these services are extremely high. Sending someone $50 can cost you as much as $20, and phone calls can cost up to $1 a minute depending on the facility. Unfortunately, families and friends of inmates don’t have many other options when they want to stay in touch. 

Do you think companies like JPay are taking advantage of prisoners and their families? Let us know in the comments below.


  • I think JPay is too costly for inmates and their loved ones. They take advantage of the difficult and deprived situation. I think it should be regulated like the other communication providers.

  • I’ve got mental health problems and the way you explained how to email a prisoner is still hard to follow it and for me to set it up

  • Yes jpay and many other company’s are taking extreme advantage of us I have a son in prison and they are the most crooked unlawfully sorry people and company’s running that prison that its sickening they are bigger outlaws and crooks than the people they are putting behind the bars there in east Tennessee our government should have the balls to step in and investigate all of Tennessee ‘s prisons especially wartburg

  • J-Pay, and other similar companies stink to high heaven.

    There should be NO reason that these companies even exist – I don’t pay to use Interac, PayPal, Zoom, Skype, or email…why should prisoners and their families?

  • I mean I just dont even get it My dad and mom are in prison and I haven’t talked to my mother in 6 years. I think we should be able to talk to our friends and family that are behind the bars.

  • Wisconsin needs to do better. Need to list the freaking fees that come with putting money on their books. Fees are higher than Shaq’s knee caps.

  • Is there any way to e-mail a prisoner for free? I’d like to offer my friendship but I’m moneyless and I don’t have a fixed address to correspond through snail mail. Thanks in advance!

  • Yes..its horrible the financial strain they put on us just to try to keep in touch with our loved ones. Who’s the biggest crooks???

  • Just another way for them to take our money.the inmates are already paying there price why should there loved ones have to pay to ..all about the money

  • This is price gouging inmates. And those families who are facing economic hardship are negatively affected the most.

  • It is very hard to contact my loved one…i can’t receive his calls even though I follow the prompts. He can’t write me .no funds and I can’t write him I don’t have his OPUS #

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