Prison Rules – What to Expect


To find federal prisoner addresses you can visit and use the Inmate Locator. Enter first and last name to get the institution name and inmate register number. Follow the “Location” link next to the inmates name to find the mailing address and other information about the facility. 

Make sure to include full name and inmate register number above the mailing address.

Books and Magazines
You can mail paperwork, newspapers, magazines, and paperback books in large envelopes using media mail.  Limit them to 3 per package and write the titles on the outside of the package.

Hardcover books can only be sent from a publisher or book store. is a good source for hardcover books, paperbacks, and magazines.

ALL Mail, including any books or magazines are monitored and prison authorities will reject material deemed a risk to the security and order of the institution, or any material that facilitates criminal activity.
The federal prison system requires prisoners to purchase personal hygiene items, clothing, stationery, food, stamps, and phone calls from a commissary account. 

No gifts can be mailed in, other than paperback books and magazines.

Western Union is the easiest and quickest way to deposit money.  You need the prisoner’s name and inmate register number to use the “Quick Collect Form.”
    Recipient:  Inmate Name, Inmate Register Number US BOP
    City Code: FBOP
    State: DC
Money orders can be mailed to:
Federal Bureau of Prisons
Inmate Name, Inmate Register Number
Post Office Box 474701
Des Moines, Iowa 50947-0001

Prisoners don’t always get notification of who deposited money it is suggested that you write a letter to let them know the amount and date.
If the prisoner is making restitution payments, 50% or more of the money you deposit might be used towards the payments. 

Phone Calls

It might take several days for an inmate to be granted a phone account for outgoing calls.

Inmates may only call phone numbers on a pre-approved list.  It will usually take a week or more for numbers to be approved.

Phone calls involve long lines and a limited times.  When you give an inmate your phone number, write down the times that they can reach you.

Phone calls are limited to 15 minutes per call, up to 300 minutes per month.   When the time is up, you will be cut off with no notice and the prisoner will be unable to call again until the allowed time.  Don’t panic if you get disconnected.

Prison has strict rules against 3-way calls and using speaker phone is considered a violation of the 3-way rule.
If you need to send a message to an inmate and are not on the approved list, ask if they have designated someone as a regular phone contact on the outside world and leave a message with that person.

Emergency Notification

If there is an emergency, family can call and provide inmate name and number, the name of the afflicted family member, name of the hospital or funeral home, and a telephone number.  The institution chaplain will notifies prisoners and give them a chance to return the phone call.  This process often takes several days.  Whether furlough is granted is up to the warden.

Visiting (Weekends and Holidays)

All visitors need to be pre-approved by the prison and have established a relationship with the inmate prior to their incarceration.  Ask the inmate to mail you a form.

On the day of your visit, plan to arrive at least 30 minutes early to be processed in.  It’s a shame to waste your visit time in the lobby, so arrive as early as possible and beat the crowd.

Bring $40 in quarters in a clear bag to spend in the vending machines.  Lock everything in the car except for your ID, car keys, and bag of quarters.

DRESS CODE Visitors have been known to be turned away for not following the dress code for visistors. Make sure that you dress appropriately by checking out the current dress code and visitor regulations for my institution at

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2 thoughts on “Prison Rules – What to Expect

  1. Pingback: From Someone who knows | The Human Solution

  2. You guys may enjoy ‘Welcome to Prison–Enjoy Your Stay’

    It is about my first year in prison for a pot offense…I went on to stay for 4 more years.
    The Feds are as serious as a hatchet in the head.

    Vote out all incumbents…they are NOT listening.

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