General Questions about InmateAid

1. What is InmateAid.com?

InmateAid.com is a convenient and comprehensive web portal created exclusively for the friends and family members of the incarcerated who are currently serving prison time in the United States penal system or their respective state correctional facilities. This portal is a "one-stop solution" for moral and financial support, news, advocacy services, legal assistance and anything else that can to assist you and your incarcerated loved one during the difficult times before, during and after their sentence.

2. How does InmateAid.com work?

InmateAid is a FREE website with every possible feature and function that will Aid your Inmate. To take advantage of all these free services, you must register as a User. The next step is to set up your incarcerated loved one an Personal Inmate Page similar to Facebook-for-inmates. You can use this Personal Inmate Page to mail inmates postal letters and photos directly from your smartphone or computer and keep connected throughout their bid.

The Personal Inmate Page will contain certain relevant information important to the inmate’s friends and family members. Your confined loved one, with your help, may post their “wish list” of book titles, authors, magazines, newspapers, and college correspondence courses leading to a university degree. You can track of their progress and share information, photos, and blog between the support groups in the Forum seeing your loved one through and until their release date. InmateAid.com’s sole mission is to help you to support them during this difficult period.

3. How often do you list new prisoner profiles?

New Personal Inmate Pages are posted immediately after a User finishes setting it up. It is assessable to anyone that types an inmate's name into the Search Inmate Profile on the home page in the upper right corner below the blue banner.

4. What is the difference between the Inmate Search and the InmateAid Inmate Profile?

The Inmate Search is a compilation of ALL the available links for inmate locators, inmate look-ups and inmate searches from ALL prisons, jails, detention centers and private facilities on the Internet. They are neatly assembled on the Inmate Search section with a map of the United States to help you begin narrowing down your choices to find where an inmate you're looking for is incarcerated.

The Personal Inmate Page is the section where people who are caring for inmates may place ALL of the information about that prisoner so that the friends and family whom may want to help will have a guide to send them things that they want.

5. How can I find out more about the prisoner I am corresponding with?

Other than the Personal Inmate Page, there really isn't a way to find out more about an inmate, unless you ask them directly. The Personal Inmate Page contains the inmate's interests and hobbies, it states their age and any information that the person setting up the profile wishes to include. If you are just curious, there is always Google, where you can search this inmate's name.

6. Can you keep me informed of changes and news worthy events on prison issues?

Another great feature on InmateAid is all the relevant content related to anything "prison" or "inmate". We maintain a huge database of information about sentencing laws or changes in statutes that might affect your inmate's release date.  If you are a User, you can select topics that you would like to follow. If there is any Breaking News on these topics, we post them to the site but the Users get an email with the article immediately upon its release. We strongly recommend joining the Email Alert Program and choose the topics that most affect your inmate.

7. How can I have an inmate's profile removed from your website because he/she no longer wants to be listed?

That is up to the User who set up the Personal Inmate Page.  Unless we get an postal letter from the inmate directly from the prison requested it be removed, we leave it up to the person monitoring the Personal Inmate Page.

8. I know an inmate on your website that needs an address change. How can I have this done?

Send us an email at aid@InmateAid.com and we will check with the User and the Inmate Search to verify the change of location.

9. I found an inmate on your website that has a different release date than that of the one provided by the Department of Corrections. Why is this?

Again, the Personal Inmate Page is self-generated by the User. And that is not to say that the User is wrong and the DOC is right. There are several factors that make up an inmate's release date.  One of them is "good time" credits.  Every prison or jail has a way for inmates to work time off their sentence. Also, the RDAP and other drug programs give time off for completing the program. The new dates from these accomplishments may not yet be reflected on the DOC or BOP website(s).

10. Can I send your inmates commercial advertisements?

Inmates can receive all sorts of mail; some of it is advertising junk mail. If you are going to use our service, the only way to send an advertisement would be to include it in the body of the letter you are typing. But, there have got to be better demographics to market to than an inmate population that is VERY restricted from acting upon anything commercial.

11. I know an inmate who needs legal aid. Can you help?

InmateAid does not recommend attorneys but does maintain a list of attorneys by state that offer pro-bono (free) legal services.  InmateAid also has other legal resources that are advocates for certain causes that may fit your needs. If you have a specific request, please write Ask the Inmate and we will do our best to connect you with the very best solution.

12. Do you have a section on the website that is designed to help kids?

We are mindful how much collateral damage is done to the children of the incarcerated. To that end, we offer in our Resource section - Family Services that have regional programs that deal directly with this subject. InmateAid attempts to list EVERY possible resource we can find.  Search through the vast listing using the Search box at the top of the site to narrow down what programs fit your situation best. If you have a specific request, please write Ask the Inmate and we will do our best to connect you with the very best solution.

13. Do you have any rewards programs that benefit Users whom access the site's feature often?

InmateAid is designing a Rewards Program that will offer points for using the site. You will get points for using the Forum, buying things for your inmate, sending letters to them, Ask the Inmate questions, offering articles, resources or ideas to the site will ALL give the User collective points that will lead to redemption of services for FREE.  We will be making the announcement shortly on the website along with the rules of engagement.

Discount Telephone Service

1. What exactly is an InmateAid phone line?

InmateAid is able to provide you with a local number near your loved one’s facility. Most often inmates are located in correctional institutions that are considered long distance from you, because of this prison phone providers are able to charge long distance telephone rates.

InmateAid can provide local telephone numbers near most facilities; this means your inmate will be placing a local call instead of long distance and they will avoid paying crazy long distance telephone rates - savings that can only be gotten by having a local number.

2. How much money will the InmateAid phone service save me?

The savings vary from each state and even from facility to facility. They are determined by how much the prison phone provider charges for long distance telephone calls. The savings can be as much as 90% but are typically less than that.

3. Does the InmateAid phone service replace the prison/jail phone service?

NO. InmateAid only provides a local number that is forwarded to you current phone line. It can be a cell number or a land line. The rates being charged by the phone companies working with the prisons are unbelievably high. The federal government has been investigating this practice but it doesn't appear they are going to change things anytime soon. The only way to beat them is to have a local line so that the cost per call is at the lowest per-minute rate they offer.

Regardless of the outbound calling format (whether Global Tel Link, Securus, Paytel or IC Solutions), you have to fund the account for the inmate to call out. However, it is cheaper for an inmate to call a "local number" than a "long distance number". We are simply providing a LOCAL NUMBER, not replacing the prison service provider.

4. Can InmateAid save my inmate money if they are in a county or local jail?

Yes, InmateAid can help you if your loved one is in a county or local jail and can provide you with local numbers in most cases. Long distance call costs from inmates are very high. Using the local number we provide can help you save up to 90% on each jail call.

Many people assume if the area codes are the same as the jail facilities the call will be local but quite often the call will be considered long distance.

5. Can InmateAid save my inmate money if they are in a federal prison?

Yes, InmateAid can help you if your loved one is in a federal prison and can provide you with local numbers in most cases. Local calls from ALL federal prisons are 6 cents per minute.  Long distance call cost 30 cents per minute. The inmates are allowed 300 minutes per month; the difference to the inmates calling account is $18 for local calls versus $90 for long distance.  The fee InmateAid charges for the local line is offset by the big price difference.

6. How does this service work?

When your inmate calls you now, it is a LONG DISTANCE call with rates ranging from 23 cents to over $1.00 per minute. We provide you with a LOCAL telephone number - local to the prison area code your inmate is housed. The local rates are more like 5-6 cents per minute. If you use 300 minutes at $.50/min - it is $150/mo; at $.06/min is $18/mo. We charge $19.95 for the line ($37.95 total), you save $112.05 per month.

This example is BEST case (federal system) scenario because there are plenty of other examples where the long distance rate is a lot higher than $.23/min - the difference would be several hundreds of dollars per month for other institutions. Add to the fact that when you are looking at 1000 minutes it can get crazy expensive. If you buy a local number from InmateAid and pay quarterly, we give you 1000 minutes/mo. instead of 300 paying month-to-month. Same monthly price, triple the minutes.


7. If I have an account with Global Tel Link, Securus, IC Solutions or others where I have to pay them first, then pay them again to use your number?

The number that you opened the first account with is a long distance number. When your inmate calls from the prison or jail, the time of the call is charged the long distance rate. When you get a LOCAL number from InmateAid, you will have to establish a new account with the service. You are going to be paying a substantially lower rate with this line than the long distance line.

Since you are pre-paying the prison phone service for your inmate (i.e. Securus, IC Solutions, Global Tel Link, Paytel), you will have to treat this new LOCAL number as a NEW ACCOUNT with them as they will not allow you to move money from the old number to the new number.

8. Why do the services like Global Tel Link or Securus tell us your service is a scam?

Simple, we are the only way around the system that they operate to maximize the most profit from people forced to use their service. There is no other alternative. To beat their criminal pricing, you need a LOCAL line. We give a money back guarantee if the service does not save you money. Our price to secure a LOCAL telephone line is the lowest in the industry.

Send Books to an Inmate

1. What is the best way to send books?

The best and only way to send books into a prison, jail or detention center facility is through the publisher of the book. Sending a book from your home will just get rejected. The prison mail rooms go through a screening process or x-ray of the mail to make sure that contraband doesn't get entered into the prison.

InmateAid has a relationship with the largest book seller in the world, Amazon.com. You can go to Amazon and buy a book for an inmate or use InmateAid's link. the benefit to the User is twofold. One, we keep track of purchases for your inmate's account and two are accumulating Reward Program points that will benefit the User's future purchases. There is no additional cost to use Amazon from our site, the prices are set by Amazon and do not change regardless of where you come to them from. Clearly there are benefits by using this service to keep your and others involved organized.

2. The prison where my loved one is incarcerated does not allow us to send books to the prisoners. How does InmateAid overcome this?

As stated above, the prisons and jails WILL allow the books sent in by the publisher. The recognized brands have some cache and although scrutinized, will have the okay to be delivered to the inmate once it passes inspection. If it comes from a private address, it never makes it that far.

3. I would like to donate books. Can I mail the books to InmateAid.com?

We do not accept donated books at this time.

Send Money to an Inmate

1. How can we send money to an inmate if Western Union is not an option?

There are many different institutions and although InmateAid has a relationship with Western Union, it is true that not all accept their means of money transfer. Please let us know if you want to use Western Union for a particular prison that doesn't, we will pass along the request and try to create an account.

When Western Union does not offer service, please go to the Prison Directory and locate the facility. Use the link to the institution's website and there will be instructions for sending money orders by mail.

In the very near future, InmateAid will post ALL of that information directly on the institution's InmateAid listing that will be appended to the InmateAid Profile page so as to better service the inmate in need.

Send Magazines to an Inmate

1. What is the least expensive way to send magazines to an inmate?

The most expensive way is to buy a magazine at a store and send it by US Mail into the prison. The LEAST expensive way is by subscription. And the best subscription prices are through an InmateAid partner that we monitor monthly for "lowest-per-issue-price" subscriptions. Inmates LOVE magazines. It keeps them involved in their main interests and they get to go to mail call and receive desired titles that other inmates want which definitely makes them popular because when they're finished, they lend them out.

Send Newspapers to an Inmate

1. What is the least expensive way to send newspapers to an inmate?

The most expensive way is to buy a newspaper at a store and send it by US Mail into the prison. The problem with newspapers is that a large majority of prisons WILL NOT allow newspapers sent in personal mail. In fact, clippings of articles are often stripped from mail when inserted with letters. Therefore, just like with magazines, the LEAST expensive way is by subscription. And the best subscription prices are through an InmateAid partner that we monitor monthly for "lowest-per-issue-price" subscriptions. Newspapers come daily, so the reading that an inmate gets is incredible. Plus it keeps them connected to the outside world or their local community depending upon the newspaper that they want.

Enroll an Inmate into a College Program

1. What kind of education could an inmate really get?

The university programs we have listed are available to inmates in prison and typically referred to as "Independent & Distance Learning". These programs are available and offered by many accredited, well-respected universities. Just like anything, you get out of it what you put into it.

2. Who pays for college inside the prison, are there "free programs" does an inmate direct his own profile on InmateAid?

There are currently NO prison college correspondence courses that are offered for free. However, there are some instances where the college professors come into the prison and teach. That cost is paid by donations. InmateAid has over 60 listings that you can access in the Resources section by state and read the details of all the programs.

Placing Personal Inmate Pages on InmateAid.com

1. Who can set up an InmateAid Profile?

Any registered User may set up an Personal Inmate Page. Once the profile is set up, there cannot be any other User able to access that profile and make changes to it. InmateAid will honor directions from an inmate who sends a postal letter from inside their institution regarding User access.

2. How can an inmate direct his own profile on InmateAid?

InmateAid does from time to time send marketing pieces into the prisons for feedback and wish list additions. If they do not have a profile set up, they may offer the email of the person that they want handling it for them.

3. How do I go about getting a brochure to an inmate?

Email Aid@InmateAid.com and give us the name and address of an inmate that you would like a brochure sent to and will promptly mail it to them.

4. Can you list prisoners on your website from outside the United States?

InmateAid does not currently list prisons outside of the United States; therefore we have no way to synch up the services to a foreign jail. We plan to expand this service worldwide but for the short term there is nothing available on InmateAid.

5. Can I submit an inmate's profile online or make changes to an existing profile?

Only if the profile you want to make changes to was set up by your User account or that an inmate has designated you as that manager. InmateAid notifies all Users of inmate postal requests regarding changes or designations of the InmateAid Inmate profile account.

6. Do you have any suggestions for inmates when writing their profiles?

We feel that profiles should be concise, honest and cover the most important aspects of that inmate's life as though you were introducing them to a friend or other family member. We do not encourage salacious or lewd postings and if they are too offensive, we reserve the right to remove them from the public eye.

7. I never received my confirmation e-mail from InmateAid.com. Did you send it?

InmateAid sends an email notification to verify that you in fact want to set up a User account. This verification process also opts you into our system giving us permission to contact you or send news items or marketing pieces within your area of interest.

8. I need to send a photo of an inmate to have it placed on their profile. How do I do this?

The photo function is for digital pictures only. You do NOT need a picture to create an Personal Inmate Page.

9. Will you place an inmate profile on Facebook or similar sites?

No, we do not integrate InmateAid data with any of the social medias or similar websites.

Writing Inmates (PenPal-Style) and Sending Pictures

1. Can I e-mail any inmate you have listed?

InmateAid operates their PenPal program much differently than other sites. We do not charge for postings, we only charge to send a letter - $1.49 for three typed pages. The convenience of this service makes the cost very fair and affordable and keeps track of what you've written.

2. What if I'm not 18, can I still write a prisoner?

Typically, we are not trying to discriminate, but anyone UNDER 18, probably doesn't have a credit card. If the inmate you are writing is a relative, then your parent or other adult could assist you sending a letter. If you are under 18, do not attempt to write an inmate that you want to be a PenPal, it's not safe nor a good idea.

3. How does an inmate write me back - if I do not want to give out my address

InmateAid has a Letter Response service to protect the address of the letter writer. The inmate mails a letter to the offices of InmateAid, addressed to the member. InmateAid uploads the letter in its entirety to the member's account and notify via email that there is a letter to be retrieved. The cost to retrieve the letter is $1.49.

4. I know someone who wants to write to an inmate but doesn't have access to the Internet. Can you help?

The Write an Inmate, Send Photo feature is a smartphone and computer enabled service. It's for people on the go or that haven't made the time to send some heartfelt message that they've been meaning to. The service keeps families connected through connectivity. If you don't want or cannot use the service, take out a pencil and pen and write the letter the old-fashioned way.

5. Can I send prisoners gifts such as stamps, stationery, etc.?

You cannot send stamps, stationary or other items through the US Mail that the facilities will consider contraband. The prisons control what the inmates are able to possess. There is an inmate store in the prison called the Commissary. You may send money to an inmate's trust account which would enable them to shop for items on the commissary list.

6. Do you have any suggestions for writing my first letter to a prisoner?

If you are writing to converse with an inmate you do not know, then the content should be general not giving too much personal information away. Treat this situation as you would meet a stranger for the first time for coffee, keep the conversation light and do not place yourself in a situation where you are uncomfortable. Inmates are lonely and need pen pals but some are to be wary of as they have no outlet other than writing. Just be careful, have some fun but do not believe everything they tell you.

7. Will the inmate be given my mailing address?

Inmates will only have your address if you give it to them in the body of the letter that YOU write. All letters sent by InmateAid are done so with the return address for InmateAid in Boca Raton, FL, not the author of the letter.

8. An inmate I am writing to has asked for money. Do you have any suggestions?

Inmates you get to know will sometimes get personal with you. They will tell you their problems and listen to yours. Most don't have financial support. Asking for money is not a terrible thing. If you are comfortable sending a few dollars ($50-200) for their telephone time and commissary, this clearly will make their time better, then go ahead. We would NOT however get into any amounts larger than the examples. You are better off sending things to help them like reading material or college correspondence courses. Keep the relationship light, issues about money change the complexion and dynamic so be careful.

9. I wrote an inmate. How long do I have to wait to get a reply?

There is not set amount of time that it takes to get a response. Mail rooms in prison all operate on the basic premise that all mail is searched and read. The delivery is usually delayed. Depending upon the inmate's wherewithal, having stamps and writing material could delay things, or simply time. Be patient, inmates have plenty of time and love to communicate.

10. I would like to write an inmate pen-pal on InmateAid.com as a friend, but the inmate I want to write is only looking for romance. Should I write them anyway?

If they are looking for romance and you are not, there is your answer.

11. Do I need to include my mailing address in the "Message" section of the email an inmate form, or is it already included because I entered it above?

The body of the letter does not automatically include your address. Inmate Aid letter writing is sent from our offices in Florida with our address on the envelope. If you would like to receive letters back, include the address somewhere in the message.

12. The inmate that I have been writing to suddenly stopped. Why?

There are several legitimate reasons why an inmate suddenly stops writing. Inmates are moved frequently, without notice. Also, mail can be lost, the inmate could be sick, the inmate could have lost privileges or placed in segregation or perhaps the inmate is short on funds for postage. Try writing another letter. If you don't hear back from the inmate, use our Inmate Locator to verify that the inmate's address hasn't changed. It is very rare that an inmate will abandon a pen-pal. However, depression can be a reason that your prison pen-pal has stopped writing. Don't give up on them.