How To Call An Inmate Back

Originally Published February 17th, 2020

Prison life is hard for everyone and outside emotional support does a lot to help an inmate survive in prison. That’s why prison calls are very important to both the inmate and their families. (Related: How Calling Inmates Can Change Their Lives)

Inmates are allowed to call family and friends from the outside, though regulations vary per facility. But the question is, how do you call an inmate back? More importantly, can you call an inmate back? Technically, you can’t but some facilities may reconsider in emergency cases.


Each facility is given autonomy in implementing its own inmate calling system. As a result, prison call rules vary for each facility. But some rules apply to most prisons.

For one, inmates cannot receive calls. They can only make outgoing ones. This means you can’t call an inmate back. You can only wait for them to call you. This rule applies to federal, state, and county prisons.

In federal prisons, inmates only get 300 minutes of calls each month. This resets on a specific day and unused minutes are voided. Prisoners, however, can’t use all their minutes in one go. Each call is limited to only up to 15 minutes. If they want to make another call, they’ll have to wait an hour after the start of the previous one.

You need to be careful what you say during calls too as all inmate calls are monitored except calls to lawyers. Even then, the prisoner has to secure the necessary permissions.

An inmate making outside calls.


Yes, you can’t call an inmate. But, in case of emergencies, some facilities may reconsider. It has to be a real emergency though like the inmate’s house burning or death in the immediate family. You can call the prison’s warden and ask if you can talk to the inmate. Be sure to make the request in a polite way. After all, they’re not obliged to pass on messages to inmates. They have all the right to deny you if they think you are being rude or that its not really an emergency.


If you really want to talk to an inmate but they can’t or won’t call you, there’s always the jail mail. Some companies like GlobalTel make sending jail mail postcards to prison a lot easier and cheaper than offering cheap jail calls. You just have to go to their website and create a personalized letter or postcard. They will then print it and send it to the facility where the inmate is. Like jail calls, all prison mails are thoroughly inspected so you need to exercise caution too.


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.

Judy Ponio an author for GlobalTel


Judy Ponio is a firm believer in the power of sharing knowledge. Having extensive experience in the prison industry, she wants to share what she knows with the world. Judy also loves to write about political and legal topics.