Can You Send An Email to a Prisoner in the US?

Originally Published January 21st, 2020

Life in prison is already a misery, and the hard communication outside jail adds a nightmare to it. While telephones and letters are available for prisoners to keep in touch with their loved ones, their families and the inmates themselves find it inefficient.

That is why, nowadays, the most popular way of communicating a loved one inside the jail is through electronic messaging.

The system allows families and friends to communicate with the inmates easily. However, just like sending a handwritten letter to an inmate, emails are usually monitored by prison staff.

Electronic messaging does not provide a direct email to the prisoner. The prison staff will have to scan and monitor the email before they deliver it to the prisoner.


Communication plays a significant role in helping inmates in surviving prison life. Electronic messaging help inmates and their family and friends in many ways. These include:

  • Help prisoners cope with depression through frequent communication
  • Reducing self-harm and suicidal thought of inmates through increased communication.
  • Help prisoners to have more accessible and more frequent communication with their family and friends.
  • Assist inmates in preparation for release with different agencies
    Can continue educational programs through email
  • Moreover, studies show that inmates who were able to keep in touch with their families are less likely to re-offend.


In general, there are only one or two telephones per wing, and inmates are not supposed to receive calls from outside the jail. Most often than not, it is more likely that there will be restrictions on the time of day a prisoner can use the telephone.

It is also usual that there will be a long queue for the prisoner to use the telephone. Some prisons even use a booking system to make an appointment to call someone outside the jail.

a person sending an email to a prisoner in the US

Furthermore, most of the phone calls coming from prison are notoriously expensive. Unlike in electronic messaging, its rates are way cheaper than using a phone call.

Inmates can also receive messages from their loved ones, their lawyers, or even from the professors of the educational programs that they enrolled themselves in.


There are various private companies out there that offer electronic mailing at a lower price. Two of the most famous companies that provide electronic messaging are CorrLinks and JPay. It is up to you to decide which system is more efficient and easy to use.

In sending an email to an inmate in the US, you will be given an option on what service you would want to avail of. There are two types of system that electronic messaging companies offer. These are:


Inbound-only systems only allow a one-way type of electronic communication. Meaning, a non-incarcerated user sends a letter through the provider’s webpage, pays for the message, and the message will be sent to the jail electronically.

Once the message is scanned and approved, the message will be printed out and delivered to the prisoner. The only option for the inmate to respond-if he wants to-is by postal mail.


In a two-way system, the system works the same way with the inbound-only system, except that the message is not printed for delivery.

Instead, once the message is electronically delivered to the jail, the inmate will access the system through a shared “kiosks.” Kiosks are the devices that are controlled and monitored by the correctional facility.

In this way, the inmates can respond immediately through the kiosks — no need for sending a handwritten mail. The non-incarcerated user can quickly receive the response message of the inmate instantly.

While some companies offer cheaper rates, some people still prefer sending emails instead of using their phones to contact their loved ones in jail. Through advanced technology, inmates can now keep their ties with their families, which can help them to endure the life inside prison.


GlobalTel’s inmate calling service lowers jail call rates by 90% for jail calls to US facilities. Sign up for our service to eliminate the long distance jail call fees for $45.99 for 90 days. Make US/domestic and international jail calls at the local rate and stay connected to your incarcerated loved ones for less. Learn more about how to sign up for calls from inmates on our website.

Franchette Agatha an author for GlobalTel


Franchette Agatha Jardin believes that everyone has the capacity to help those who are in need. She writes blogs about issues and news surrounding those in prison in the hopes of restoring a little extra faith in humanity.