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:
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.
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.
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.
Natalie earned her Bachelors degree in Journalism from the University of Kansas, and has worked in television and radio during her career. When she was a 19-year-old sophomore at KU, she got her first on-air job as a sports reporter for a CBS-TV affiliate. In 2013, she was sentenced to 30 years in prison for the possession and production of marijuana. She was released in 2017. We've kept her last name off of our website so that she does not experience any professional hardship for her contributions.
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