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How Do Prison Inmate Calls Work?

How Do Prison Inmate Calls Work?

For prison inmates, I can’t think of anything more important than communicating with loved ones in the outside world. Whether it’s through letters, emails, visits or phone calls – nothing is more important to me in prison than being able to talk to family and friends.

Communicating with prison inmates can be difficult when you’re in the free world – you can’t just call or text. Speaking of the world of prison phones – how do those prison inmate phones work?

In today’s blog post, I will cover the following topics:

  • Can you call a prison inmate?
  • What do your inmates call you?
  • When can prisoners make phone calls?
  • Why can’t prisoners make phone calls?
  • What happens if you call back the prison number?

Can you call a prison inmate?

Generally, you cannot call prison inmates. You should never call them directly. However, some facilities do have a program that allows you to call and leave a message for the facility chaplain or counselor in the event of a family emergency.

In these cases, you can leave a message on the phone and a cellmate will call you back either through the prison phone system or on the phone of the chaplain or counselor.

What do your inmates call you?

All correctional facilities—jails, jails, and ICE detention centers—have an inmate phone system that allows inmates to call friends and family for a fee. The fee can be as low as three cents per minute or as high as a dollar per minute. It just depends on the facility, the specific systems they have, and the fee schedule they agree to.

Phones are located throughout the housing unit—often outside the cells, in common areas—and prisoners can use these phones to make outgoing calls at certain times.

Often the phone lines are very long and you have to wait your turn. Due to high call time requirements, most calls from prisons or prisons will be limited to around 15 minutes.

One of the most used corrective phone companies is simple, which will provide inmates with facilities equipped with mobile phones and tablets. All inmate calls are collect like simple Two different types of payment options are generally offered: prepaid options and debit options.

The prepaid option allows friends and family to open and top up a phone account. Then, when the inmate calls your number, the amount of the call will be deducted from the amount in your prepaid account. Using this method will only allow the inmate to call your number, not anyone else.

The debit option allows you to add money to an inmate’s phone account, and they can then use that cash to call whomever they want.

Many facilities also allow inmates to purchase calling cards from commissaries to make calls, so no prepaid or debited phone accounts are required.

When can prisoners make phone calls?

Every jail and prison has its own airtime rules for inmates. Typically, prisoners can make phone calls between 7am and 10pm during the day. These times vary by facility.

In my experience, the phone is turned on after midnight, usually around 6:30 or 7:00 am. They don’t close until around 10:30pm. The only time we’re not allowed to use phones during the day is when counting or emergency lockouts.

Why can’t prisoners make phone calls?

Depending on the facility, inmates may have limited call lists, allowing them to call only a handful of people — usually family, friends, clergy or lawyers. If this is the case, prisoners are not allowed to call people who are not on their approved list.

Prisoners are not allowed to call the victim or anyone else connected to the case. And, as I said before, prisoners can’t make phone calls during locked or counted hours.

Another reason prisoners can’t make calls is if they don’t have money in their phone account, don’t have a calling card, or the person they want to call doesn’t have a prepaid phone account.

Prisoners in administrative segregation, which means they are punished for certain things, often do not have access to phones and cannot make calls.

What happens if you call back the prison number?

The answer to this question depends on the facility and volume. If it is the number shown on your caller ID from an inmate phone, when you call back that number you may be directed to the switchboard number of the phone company that provided the service, or you will be connected to the prison’s main phone number . It’s also possible that nothing will happen and you’ll get a fast busy tone or an automatic disconnect.

If you call back the prison number, there is zero chance that the prisoner will answer the call.

What is it like to call a cellmate? Do you prefer the prepaid account option or the debit option? Let us know in the comments below.


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