Texting is part of our everyday life in the free world. It’s become so common that it’s almost a strange thing to get a phone call. Not to mention voicemail.
But how does it work when you are arrested and jailed for a period of time? Do prisoners have cell phones? Can you text in jail?
In today’s blog post, I will cover the following topics:
- no phone, no text
- What is a kite?
- Do prisoners have access to any technology?
- prison phone rules
- Prison Mail Rules
no phone, no text
It’s no surprise that you have to leave your phone at home when you’re in jail. Cell phones and all other tech gadgets from the free world are an absolute no-no when you’re behind bars. Even prison staff are prohibited from bringing gadgets into areas accessible to prisoners.
Because cell phones aren’t allowed in prison, you can’t text while you’re an inmate. Instead, communication is very much like high school in the early 1990s—it was all done on paper.
What is a kite?
In prisons, inmates and staff communicate through the kite method. What is a kite you ask? A kite is basically a handwritten note on a piece of paper that is folded and dropped into the appropriate “kite” box or intercollegiate mailbox.
Essentially, prisoners communicate with staff via notes, like we used to do in schools. The same goes for prisoner exchanges. If there’s a prisoner in the camp that, for whatever reason, you don’t see often enough, you can kite and pass between other trusted prisoners until it reaches the intended person.
Do prisoners have access to any technology?
Of course, just because something is illegal doesn’t mean all prisoners follow the rules. Cell phones are actually one of the most common items smuggled into prisons. Be it staff or visitors. Some inmates did manage to get cell phones so they could conduct business in prison and keep in touch with family members without being monitored.
If you’ve ever heard of prison inmates using cell phones to make calls, text messages or post on social media, that’s forbidden activity. If they get caught, that prisoner is in big trouble.
Inmates at some jails have legal access to technology thanks to new inmate tablets. More and more prisons are introducing tablets for use by prisoners. They can do things like communicate with staff (get rid of the kite system) and order canteen items. These tablets can also be used for educational sessions and sending/receiving emails. In some facilities, prisoners can use them to download music, movies and games.
I should point out, though, that these tablets aren’t connected to the Internet just because they can be used for email and media downloads. Prisons that use inmates’ tablets have a special intranet system that communicates with the devices.
prison phone rules
Most inmates in prisons have access to a phone every day, unless they are in a superjail or in administrative isolation. The phones are old landlines fixed to the walls inside the cell block.
Where I was incarcerated, there were three phones in each wing, and there were over 100 women in each wing. Sometimes, phone lines run for hours. If people try to cut in line, they tend to cause an argument.
All prison calls are monitored and recorded. Most agencies limit each call to around 15 to 20 minutes.
Inmates are not allowed to answer incoming calls, but they can make outgoing calls to people on their approved phone list. To answer calls from inmates, you must have a prepaid phone account, or you can send money to the inmate and they can take their time to call you. The price of the phone does vary. Typically, they cost around 2 to 5 cents per minute.
Prison Mail Rules
To text someone the old-fashioned way, you send the prisoner a letter by regular mail. Like phones, all inmates’ mail is monitored. Each facility has specific mailing rules about how many pictures you can send and whether you are allowed to send envelopes and stamps. Some prisons allow you to send money to inmates by mail, but most don’t do that anymore.
One thing that is universal is that no prohibited items are allowed. You can’t even send stickers or anything sparkly. No staples, tape or paperclips. For each mail sent to prisoners, it is best to leave a few pages of notebooks or typing paper and a few pictures (must be suitable, not naked).
Many prisons also have the option to send email and video to inmates through companies such as JPAY or Access Corrections.If you want to know the mailing rules for the facility where your loved one is being held, just click on the facility name here prison insight And the list will tell you all about the snail mail rules. There is also information about email, if it is available at a particular facility.
Have you ever gotten an email from a prisoner using a tablet? Let us know in the comments below.
Sources: JPAY Tablets JPAY Video Connect JPAY Email US prisons now offer inmates 'electronic messaging,' but it's not really e-mail