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General Questions about WriteAPrisoner.com

1.    What is WriteAPrisoner.com?
2.    How does WriteAPrisoner.com work?
3.    How often do you list new prisoner profiles?
4.    What is the number you have listed next to every prisoner's name?
5.    How can I find out more about the prisoner I am corresponding with?
6.    How can I locate a prisoner?
7.    Can you keep me informed of changes and news worthy events on prison issues?
8.    Do you accept donations?
9.    Why do you post the inmates' crime on their profiles, and is this information verified?
10. How can I have an inmate's profile removed from your website because he/she no longer wants to be listed?
11.  I know an inmate that wants to participate in the WriteAPrisoner.com program, but his institution won't let him. What can be done?
12.  If an inmate's profile has expired, can it be retrieved?
13.  I know an inmate on your website that needs an address change. How can I have this done?
14.  I found an inmate on your website who has a different release date than that of the one provided by the Department of Corrections. Why is this?
15.  Does WriteAPrisoner.com take any special precautions to provide safeguards?
16.  Can I send your inmates commercial advertisements?
17.  I believe that an inmate on your website is attempting to defraud the public by placing false information on his/her profile, or I know an inmate who has been taken advantage of by someone out here. What should I do?
18.  I know an inmate who needs legal aid. Can you help?
19.  I don't want a prison pen-pal, but I still want to help reduce recidivism. Do you have any suggestions?
20.  An inmate has placed a false photo on WriteAPrisoner.com. What can I do?
21.  Do you have a section on the website that is designed to help kids?
22. I sent you an email, but you didn't reply. Why?
23. How long does it take to process a profile?

 

Back to Work Program

1.    Who can post a résumé on your website?
2.    Is there a fee to place an inmate résumé on WriteAPrisoner.com?
3.    I am not an employer, but I’d like to help. What can I do?
4.    Do you have a form I can print and send to an inmate who wants to place a résumé?
5.    Do you have any tips for writing a good résumé?
6.    Do you have any literature I can print and share with others?

 

Books Behind Bars Program

1.    I would like to donate books. Can I mail the books to WriteAPrisoner.com?
2.    Do I have to sign up for this program before I can donate materials?
3.    What is the best way to send books?
4.    Some of the organizations listed in the directory are not correctional facilities. Why?
5.    I have a loved one incarcerated in a prison that is not listed in the Books Behind Bars directory. How do I get his/her prison listed?
6.    I only have a couple of books to donate. Should I send them?
7.    I don't have any books to donate right now, but I want to help educate our country's prison population. Is there another way I can help?
8.    The prison where my loved one is incarcerated does not allow us to send books to the prisoners. Why do I see his/her facility listed here asking for book donations?
9.    I have some used textbooks I'd like to donate, but I can't find any institutions that want them. What should I do?
10.  I have some old books, but I'm worried that they are not in good enough shape to donate. Should I send them anyway?
11.  I am a publisher with multiple copies of a single title. Will one prison accept all of these books?
12.  Can I use the Books Behind Bars program to send books directly to my incarcerated loved one?
13.  Should I include a cover letter with my donation?


Placing Inmate Profiles on WriteAPrisoner.com

1.    What methods of payment do you accept for a prisoner's profile?
2.    Does WriteAPrisoner.com work with minors?
3.    I know someone in prison, can I pay for his or her profile?
4.    Can prisoners pay in installments?
5.    How do I go about getting a brochure to an inmate?
6.    Can you list prisoners on your website from outside the United States?
7.    Can I submit an inmate's profile online or make changes to an existing profile?
8.    Why do you have so much information up about mail fraud? Is this common amongst inmates?
9.  Do you have any suggestions for inmates when writing their profiles?
10.  I know an inmate who has a profile on your website, and it is about to expire. However, the inmate was sent a profile renewal letter from another company which implies that it is from your company. What is going on?
11.  I never received my confirmation e-mail from WriteAPrisoner.com. Did you send it?
12.  I need to send a photo of an inmate to have it placed on their profile. How do I do this?
13.  Will you place an inmate profile on Facebook or similar sites?
14. I submitted an inmate's profile online. How long will it take to appear on your website?

 

Tips and Guidelines for Writing a Profile

1.  What types of profiles receive the most mail?
2.  What is the best advice for writing a profile?
3.  Is it a requirment to post a photo with the profile?
4.  Are there any restrictions to be aware of when writing a profile?
5.  Can the inmate include copyrighted material in his or her profile?

 

Writing Inmates

1.    Can I e-mail a prisoner you have listed?
2.    What if I'm not 18, can I still write a prisoner?
3.    I know someone who wants to write to a prisoner but doesn't have access to the Internet. Can you help?
4.    Can I send prisoners gifts such as stamps, stationery, etc.?
5.    Do you have any suggestions for writing my first letter to a prisoner?
6.    Will the inmate be given my mailing address?
7.    I wrote a prisoner on your website, but the letter was returned to me. Why did this happen?
8.    An inmate I am writing to has asked for money. Do you have any suggestions?
9.    I wrote an inmate. How long do I have to wait to get a reply?
10.  I would like to write an inmate pen-pal on WriteAPrisoner.com as a friend, but the inmate I want to write is only looking for romance. Should I write them anyway?
11.  Do I need to include my mailing address in the "Message" section of the email an inmate form, or is it already included because I entered it above?
12.  The inmate that I have been writing to suddenly stopped. Why?
13.  What do the "Verified Crime" and "Verified Photo" images mean on inmate profiles?
14.  I am a researcher from a university, and I would like to contact some of your members. Is it okay for me to write to them?

 

General Questions about WriteAPrisoner.com

 

1) What is WriteAPrisoner.com?

We were originally established as an organization to help prisoners receive letters from free world pen-pals by providing the inmate a place to invite pen-pal correspondence. Since then, we have expanded our services to include many features aimed directly toward reducing recidivism and raising awareness.

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2) How does WriteAPrisoner.com work?

The prisoners pay us to post their pen-pal profiles. You, the public, can write to inmates free of charge. We never charge you anything to use this website. Additional services such as resume profiles and housing profiles are free to post.

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3) How often do you list new prisoner profiles?

New profiles are being listed regularly. The average time to post new profiles varies depending on the current volume we are working with.

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4) What is the number you have listed next to every prisoner's name?

This is the Department of Corrections number, Federal Inmate Number, or County Prisoner Number; depending on what type of facility the inmate is housed. You must include this next to the prisoner's name when writing them directly. Institutions assign numbers to all inmates.

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5) How can I find out more about the prisoner I am corresponding with?

Visit our Inmate Locator section where we have compiled all data on locating inmates, as well as a complete list of contact information for all available State, Federal, and County facilities. You can also contact prison officials by writing to the same address as the prisoner's. Just put "Prison Administration" in place of the prisoner's name. Include a letter that explains what you are inquiring about.

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6) How can I locate a prisoner?

We are unable to help you locate prisoners directly. If you are looking for an inmate currently listed on our website, please use our Alphabetical Text Only listing, which can be found from the Inmate Profiles drop down menu at the top of each page. If you are looking for a State, Federal, or County inmate in the United States that is not listed on our website, please use our Inmate Locator section for information on locating inmates.

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7) Can you keep me informed of changes and news worthy events on prison issues?

Yes. We have an e-mail list that you can join to be kept up to date with prisoners in the news as well as happenings here at WriteAPrisoner.com. Please Join Our Mailing List.

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8) Do you accept donations?

We need your letters more than your money. If you wish to donate to our website, you can Donate to WriteAPrisoner.com. If you decide to donate, know that 100% of all donations go directly towards getting inmates more mail, expanding our resume service, and expanding our Books Behind Bars program. Your entire donation provides resources targeted at reducing recidivism. Donations are never applied to day-to-day operations, but focused solely on real change for those who need it most.

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9) Why do you post the inmates' crime on their profiles, and is this information verified?

We post the crimes so that pen-pals have full disclosure about the person they are writing. This information is supplied directly by the inmate and verified by WriteAPrisoner.com when that option of verification is available to us. Complete information can always be obtained by contacting the prison directly. The crime we place is generic and rarely includes all offenses. Its purpose is to give the viewer an idea of the crime. However, for full disclosure, viewers are encouraged to visit the DOC, Federal, or County website using the link provided on each inmate's profile.

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10) How can I have an inmate's profile removed from your website because he/she no longer wants to be listed?

You can’t. All requests for removal need to come directly from the inmate. Inmates must submit in writing that they want their profile removed. Once we receive their written request, a confirmation letter is mailed back to them. Once we get this back, the profile is removed. This is done for their protection. Under no circumstances will we remove a profile unless the inmate requests it directly and in writing. This can take a few weeks. If the inmate has stated that we are not responding to their requests for removal, this is incorrect. We respond to every letter that comes into this office, and our goal is to get inmates who don’t want to be listed off as soon as possible to help free up pen-pals for inmates who need them. In this event, ask the inmate to send his or her profile removal request to us via Certified Mail.

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11) I know an inmate that wants to participate in the WriteAPrisoner.com program, but his institution won't let him. What can be done?

If you know of an inmate being denied access to our services, please send him or her this letter. We also encourage you to contact the organizations listed in the letter and express your concern by urging their involvement in this detrimental practice. Also, if you would be interested in speaking out against governors whose states block our mail, please visit Write a Governor.

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12) If an inmate's profile has expired, can it be retrieved?

No. Once a profile expires, all profile content is purged from our system.

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13) I know an inmate on your website that needs an address change. How can I get this done?

If the change of address is verifiable online at the official state or federal website, you may use the Report an Address Change link found on each inmate’s profile. Our staff will verify the address change, and the profile will be updated accordingly. If we are unable to verify the inmate's location online, the change of address must come in writing directly from the inmate. This is done for our members' protection and exceptions cannot be made. 

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14) I found an inmate on your website who has a different release date than that of the one provided by the Department of Corrections. Why is this?

The release dates listed on inmate profiles may not exactly match those on the DOC websites. This is because inmates will often factor in gain time, pending appeals, etc. Therefore, government information and inmate information may conflict. The inmate is not necessarily trying to mislead you with varying release dates. In many cases, inmates are simply planning on an earlier or later release based on criteria that has not yet or may not be applied to the government's website.

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15) Does WriteAPrisoner.com take any special precautions to provide safeguards?

Yes. We take every reasonable precaution available to help safeguard members of the public, minors, and the inmates who use this website. For a list of safeguards, please visit: Precautionary Measures.

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16) Can I send your inmates commercial advertisements?

No. This is a violation of our Terms or Service.

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17) I believe that an inmate on your website is attempting to defraud the public by placing false information on his/her profile, or I know an inmate who has been taken advantage of by someone out here. What should I do?

WriteAPrisoner.com has put together the following category to help report and understand scams: Detecting & Reporting Mail Fraud

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18) I know an inmate who needs legal aid. Can you help?

We do not provide direct assistance or funding for legal aid. Inmates can place legal profiles on WriteAPrisoner.com, but we suggest doing this only when they have a very compelling case. We also provide a Prison Resource Directory  for help in finding legal aid for an inmate.

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19) I don't want a prison pen-pal, but I still want to help reduce recidivism. Do you have any suggestions?

Yes! If you would like to help a soon to be released inmate find work, please visit our Back to Work section. This directly reduces an inmate's likelihood of returning to prison, and it doesn't require you to get as personal with an inmate. Visit our Books Behind Bars section, make a list of books that you can bargain hunt for, and then send them to the prison educators listed in this section. Inmates pursuing higher education become much less likely to reoffend. Visit our Letter Writing Campaign to speak out against politicians standing in the way of our efforts. You can also add WriteAPrisoner.com to Google Alerts, and Google will notify you when there is a new article out about us. You can then share your positive experiences with writing inmates in the comment sections of these articles. All of our links and pages can be added to your FaceBook, MySpace and Twitter feeds to get the word out about our mission by visiting Link to Us. If you know an inmate who is seeking self-improvement, you can print and send information from our Self-Help Series.

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20) An inmate has placed a false photo on WriteAPrisoner.com. What can I do?

If the option to verify the photo was available by the government at the time the photo was posted, then we verified and approved it. We do not consider old photos fake photos; some inmates only have access to old photos. Although we try, we can never determine the authenticity of every photo. However, if it is blatantly false, and we can verify this through a government entity, the photo will be removed, and we may remove the inmate's profile as a result of it. If the photo being used is of you, take a picture of yourself with your name clearly visible written on a sheet of paper, and contact us.

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21) Do you have a section on the website that is designed to help kids?

WriteAPrisoner.com has established a website independent from this one with the goal of helping to keep kids on track to a bright future. This website addresses many topics: dealing with an incarcerated parent, avoiding criminal behaviors, promoting education, and much more! Please visit CrimeFreeKids.com.

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22) I sent you an email, but you didn't reply. Why?

We are inundated with emails, and we work very hard to reply to all queries. However, if your email is outside our scope of practice or just conversational, you may not receive a reply. We are unable to engage in conversational email.

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23) How long does it take to process a profile?

We receive a great deal of mail each day, so we ask that inmates allow 2 to 4 weeks for processing profiles submitted by mail. Processing does not begin until we have received full payment and all required profile information. We ask that inmates consider the time it takes his or her institution to issue funds when estimating profile posting date. For profiles submitted online, we ask that you please allow up to 5 business days for processing. Again, processing does not begin until we receive full payment and all required profile information. Failure to provide all required information will delay processing.

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Back to Work

 

1) Who can post a résumé on your website?

Any inmate who is currently incarcerated (and due to be released within one year) and will be seeking work upon release can place a résumé. We also post résumés for recently released offenders.

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2) Is there a fee to place an inmate résumé on WriteAPrisoner.com?

No. This service is completely free of charge.

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3) I am not an employer, but I’d like to help. What can I do?

We are in dire need of volunteers like you. Please select several inmates from our website who will soon be released. If the inmates plan to reside in your area, you can contact potential employers that you are already aware of. If they plan to live elsewhere, you can use the Internet to locate newspapers and classified sections posted online. There are many online resources for finding jobs. Since inmates do not have access to the Internet, this is an excellent way for you to help. You can find job openings that describe the skills posted by inmates, and write directly to the inmates to share the information. Please be sure to clarify that you are not the employer offering a job, but that you are a Good Samaritan acting as the inmate’s eyes and ears in the job search process. You do not have to identify yourself to the inmate if you choose not to. Two websites to get you started are:
http://www.fortunesociety.org
http://classifieds.yahoo.com

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4) Do you have a form I can print and send to an inmate who wants to place a résumé?

In order to keep this service free of charge, we prefer that résumés are submitted online, either by an ex-offender looking for employment or by a friend or family member of individuals currently incarcerated. If you know an inmate who wants to place a résumé, please ask him/her to complete our Printable Inmate Résumé Form and return it directly to you so that you may post the information online.

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5) Do you have any tips for writing a good résumé?

Yes. Please visit our Tips for Writing a Résumé page.

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6) Do you have any literature I can print and share with others?

Yes. Please print and share our Back to Work Poster with anyone interested in helping an inmate get Back to Work.

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Books Behind Bars Program

 

1) I would like to donate books. Can I mail the books to WriteAPrisoner.com?

No, please do not send your books to WriteAPrisoner.com. Books and other materials must be sent directly to the institution or organization listed. You can also drop books off in person to those organizations that indicate this as an option. To find an organization, please visit Books Behind Bars.

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2) Do I have to sign up for this program before I can donate materials?

No. Simply choose an organization or institution from the directory that you would like to help, and send your books directly to them.

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3) What is the best way to send the books?

The best way to send books is to mail them using the U.S. Postal Service's Media Mail or Parcel Post. These are designed for sending books and very inexpensive compared to first class rates.

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4) Some of the organizations listed in the directory are not correctional facilities. Why?

There are many organizations trying to help educate inmates. We offer assistance to all of them.

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5) I have a loved one incarcerated in a prison that is not listed in the Books Behind Bars directory. How do I get his/her prison listed?

Simple. Print this form and mail it to his or her correctional facility: Books Behind Bars form

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6) I only have a couple of books to donate. Should I send them?

Definitely! A few books in prison can go a long way.

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7) I don't have any books to donate right now, but I want to help educate our country's prison population. Is there another way I can help?

Please help by spreading the word. You can print a Books Behind Bars poster to display at your local church, business, or anywhere else you like. Also, consider adding our Books Behind Bars link to your online profiles: Books Behind Bars.

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8) The prison where my loved on is incarcerated does not allow us to send books to the prisoners. Why do I see his/her facility listed here asking for book donations?

Books Behind Bars is set up to deal with the educational department, not the prisoners, so the same mailing restrictions do not apply.

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9) I have some used text books I'd like to donate, but I can't find any institutions that want them. What should I do?

Different organizations need different materials. Please use the search feature to match your items with an organization that needs them. If you are still unable to find an organization that is requesting the materials you wish to donate, consider emailing some of the programs directly and explain what you have. You can also place a notice on our Books Behind Bars Forum.

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10) I have some old books, but I'm worried that they are not in good enough shape to donate. Should I send them anyway?

Please do not send any books you consider to be unusable. When in doubt, contact the organization you are sending them to prior to mailing.

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11) I am a publisher with multiple copies of a single title. Will one prison accept all of these books?

In many cases multiple copies of a single title can be used in a prison classroom. We strongly encourage you to email the organization to which you wish to donate prior to sending these items.

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12) Can I use the Books Behind Bars program to send books directly to my incarcerated loved one?

No. This program is not designed to help inmates on a one by one basis. However, donating books to your loved one’s facility can benefit everyone housed there.

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13) Should I include a cover letter with my donation?

Yes. Please be sure to print the Donation Cover letter and place it on top of your book donation.

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Placing Inmate Profiles on WriteAPrisoner.com

 

1) What methods of payment do you accept for prisoners' profiles?

We accept checks, money orders and credit cards. See our Price List. If you would like to pay for an inmate's profile using your credit, visit our List an Inmate section and select the appropriate form from the drop down box at the top of the page. If you send cash, please be sure to send it certified.

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2) Does WriteAPrisoner.com work with minors?

No. Under no circumstances will we work with anyone under the age of 18 years old. While we strongly support family and friends maintaining contact with underage persons incarcerated, we will never facilitate mail for minors. If you would like information on helping incarcerated minors, please visit a website that we have designed just for this purpose, CrimeFreeKids.com.

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3) I know someone in prison, can I pay for his or her profile?

Yes. When paying for a profile, you can send the prisoner's photo and profile directly to us. The cost of a basic one year profile is $40.00. If you would like to pay with a credit card, visit our List an Inmate section and select the appropriate form from the drop down box at the top of the page. View additional services at: Price List.

Or, send payment via postal mail to:

WriteAPrisoner.com
P.O. Box 10
Edgewater, FL  32132  USA

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4) Can prisoners pay in installments?

Yes. They can pay as much as they want at a time. They will receive a receipt listing the remaining balance with every payment. The profile will be posted as soon as it is paid in full.

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5) How do I go about getting a brochure to an inmate?

We can either send it for you when you visit this page: Brochure Request for Inmate, or you can print and send the brochure yourself from the links below:
Pen-Pal Brochure
Legal Brochure
International Brochure

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6) Can you list prisoners on your website from outside the United States?

Yes. Although we are unable to offer the e-mail forwarding service to them, all other benefits apply. When paying from outside the United States for a prisoner's profile, please use an international money order or our List an Inmate section and select the appropriate form from the drop down box at the top of the page.

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7) Can I submit an inmate's profile online or make changes to an existing profile?

Yes. Please visit our List an Inmate section and select the appropriate form from the drop down box at the top of the page.

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8) Why do you have so much information up about mail fraud? Is this common amongst inmates?

No. In fact, fraud amongst our members has been almost non-existent. We provide this as a precaution.

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9) Do you have any suggestions for inmates when writing their profiles?

Yes. We do have some suggestions to keep in mind. Please visit Tips for Writing Pen-Pal Profiles

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10) I know an inmate who has a profile on your website, and it is about to expire. However, the inmate was sent a profile renewal letter from another company which implies that it is from your company. What is going on?

There are some unscrupulous websites out there sending our members renewal notices with brochures almost identical to ours here at WriteAPrisoner.com. If you get one of these, please mail it to:

WriteAPrisoner.com Legal Department
P.O. Box 10-L
Edgewater, FL  32132  USA

Then visit: www.bbb.org and file an official complaint. Filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau is an efficient process and effective way to protect inmates from sending their meager funds to an unscrupulous business.

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11) I never received my confirmation e-mail from WriteAPrisoner.com. Did you send it?

Yes. WriteAPrisoner.com's server is working fine. The reason that you did not receive your e-mail confirmation is because your service provider has marked our mail as spam. If you have a "Bulk Mail" or "Spam Folder", the email should be in there. Once you find it, select it and mark it as "Not Spam". This will remove our name from your spam list, so you can receive e-mails from WriteAPrisoner.com. You can also contact your service provider directly and they can do this for you.

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12) I need to send a photo of an inmate to have it placed on their profile. How do I do this?

Please send the photo along with the inmate's complete mailing address to: general-information@writeaprisoner.com. If you would prefer to send the photo by mail, please send it (along with inmate's mailing address) to:

WriteAPrisoner.com
P.O. Box 10
Edgewater, FL 32132  USA

If the photo is a profile addition, and payment needs to be made, please visit Make Changes to an Inmate Profile.

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13)  Will you place an inmate profile on Facebook or similar sites?

No. WriteAPrisoner.com never places an inmate’s information on sites such as these. Online communities like Facebook function when all parties have access to the Internet. We do not provide inmates with Internet access or anything similar to it. Our site is designed to function as a correspondence program (e.g., all of our mail is sent through the prison doors). Except for the few prisons that do allow inmates access, an inmate would have to have illegal access to Facebook using an unauthorized cell phone, unauthorized prison computer, etc. Cell phones are quickly becoming a rampant problem in prison today, and this is why you sometimes see inmates using sites like Facebook (an online site) instead of WriteAPrisoner.com (a correspondence site). It is because they have found access to do so, and most likely without the approval of their institution. While WriteAPrisoner.com does maintain its own Facebook Page, MySpace Profile, etc., we never post an inmate’s information directly on those accounts. It is simply to keep our own social network and audience apprised of service updates.

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14) I submitted an inmate's profile online. How long will it take to appear on your website?

All New Profiles, Profile Changes, and Profiles Renewals submitted online are verified by WriteAPrisoner.com staff prior to posting. We ask that you please allow up to 5 business days for processing profiles submitted online. Once posted, the profile will appear in our Inmate Profiles, as well as in all relative categories.

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Tips and Guidelines for Writing an Inmate Profile

 

1)  What types of profiles receive the most mail?

Profiles written as "seeking friends" instead of "seeking romance" receive 86% more mail on average. In addition to discouraging inmates from seeking romance in their profiles, we also recommend avoiding "thug" style profiles and pictures. Being honest, sincere and gracious in seeking friendship is how an inmate can achieve success in meeting new people. Viewers report being put-off by profiles that seek romance.

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2)  What is the best advice for writing a profile?

Simply be honest. Unlike other organizations, we fact-check all of the information (e.g., photos, crimes, dates of birth) that we can before placing profiles. Pen-pals have all the tools available to research your history. This is why so many people trust and prefer WriteAPrisoner.com.

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3)  Is it a requirment to post a photo with the profile?

Profiles with photos get more mail. If the inmate doesn’t have a photo at this time, he or she can post a profile now and send a photo later. Photos (or artwork) will be returned to the inmate along with a printout of his or her profile. Only the inmate can be featured in the photo. If someone else appears in the photo, please identify the inmate . We will remove the other person(s) without damaging the photo. Original artwork (no larger than 8 ½” x 11”) may be substituted for a photo. Photos that generate the best response rate are those that highlight accomplishments while in or out of prison or showcase the inmate spending time productively. If neither of these is available, a simple smiling photo is also good.

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4)  Are there any restrictions to be aware of when writing a profile?

Please refrain from mentioning anyone by name in the profile. Sexual language is prohibited. No business may be conducted through the profile. Profiles must be submitted in English. We do not allow members to request donations in their Pen-pal Profiles. Any profile we feel inappropriately represents us will be returned and fully refunded prior to processing. We reserve the right to edit profile content at our discretion.

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5)  Can the inmate include copyrighted material in his or her profile?

All profile content including artwork, poetry, profile text, blogs, etc., must be the inmate's original work. No copyrighted work will be accepted.

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Writing an Inmate

 

1) Can I e-mail a prisoner you have listed?

Yes. Most prisoners on our website have his or her own personal e-mail address where you can e-mail your first message. Once you send it to us, we will print and send it to the prisoner. Be sure to include a return postal mailing address so the prisoner can write you back. Prisoners cannot reply via e-mail.

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2) What if I'm not 18, can I still write a prisoner?

No. You must be at least 18 years of age to even be viewing this website. If you are under 18, please EXIT now. Minors attempting to contact inmates via our service will be reported to their Internet Service Provider. If you are under 18 years of age, you can jeopardize our service and the inmates who use it by visiting this website or making contact with inmates.

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3) I know someone who wants to write to a prisoner but doesn't have access to the Internet. Can you help?

As long as they are over the age of 18 we can send them a list of prisoners who are receiving little to no mail. We'll also send along a copy of our policies. Please e-mail the full postal mailing address to us at: Prisoner Addresses.

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4) Can I send prisoners gifts such as stamps, stationery, etc.?

If the prisoner doesn't specify in his or her profile, write and ask before sending any items. Most of them will be thrilled just to hear their name at mail call. Institution's rules vary from prison to prison. It is recommended that you do not send cash or personal checks.

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5) Do you have any suggestions for writing my first letter to a prisoner?

Yes, we do have a few suggestions for establishing a lasting friendship. Please read our Point of Contact page for some tips for writing prison pen-pals.

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6) Will the inmate be given my mailing address?

Because inmates do not have access to the Internet, they must correspond through postal mail and therefore require a physical address. The inmate is given whatever address you provide so he/she can respond to your letter. You do not have to give your address if you are willing to get a P.O. Box. In most cities, P.O. Boxes usually cost approximately $24.00 annually. Also, your local church will almost always let you use their address. Churches tend to be very supportive of inmates maintaining contact with the outside world. Be sure to stop in or give them a call before doing this. When using a P.O. Box or church address, it may be possible to correspond with an inmate using only your first name. Prison policies vary on this, and you would need to contact the prison directly before doing this. Another option is to use your post office's General Delivery service. Please contact your local post office directly for additional information about this service.

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7) I wrote a prisoner on your website but the letter was returned to me. Why did this happen?

First, check the address for typos. If everything is correct, the prisoner may have changed locations without telling us, or something else could have happened. Send us the prisoner's name, address and the reason the letter was rejected (as reported by the institution). We'll attempt to contact the inmate and let you know why the letter was returned.

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8) An inmate I am writing to has asked for money. Do you have any suggestions?

There is some confusion as to why we allow inmates the option to seek donations on WriteAPrisoner.com. We do not encourage you to send money to an inmate at any time. Many inmates are indigent, and we fully understand that they may ask people on the outside for money once correspondence is established. When an inmate posts a profile on WriteAPrisoner.com, it is a condition of listing the profile that they disclose if they are seeking donations. You, as a potential pen-pal, are provided full disclosure of this before you write. Institutions provide all basic necessities to inmates (e.g., food, clothing). In many cases, even educational programs and materials are free to inmates. Donating money is a decision that can only be made by you. Remember that you chose to write to an inmate, not sponsor one. You are not obligated to send money, nor do most inmates ask for money. If this makes you feel at all uncomfortable, don't do it. If the inmate is requesting a donation for something that seems unusual, please contact us before sending money, and we will address any concerns you have. A few dollars can go far in prison, but you should never send large sums of money under any circumstances, nor should you ever send cash. Many pen-pals will send $10.00 or so on birthdays or holidays to the inmate they are writing. Inmates can use money in prison to purchase a variety of items including better quality hygiene products, art supplies, postage, phone cards, and food in some cases. They can also use money from their account to purchase magazine subscriptions and books. You can also ask questions about this on our forum. There you will find many seasoned pen-pals who are willing to share their experiences and make suggestions. The bottom line is, don't do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, and report anything that you suspect as unethical or illegal. For more information on reporting and researching postal fraud, please visit: Detecting & Reporting Fraud.

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9) I wrote an inmate. How long do I have to wait to get a reply?

Please be patient. Institutional mail typically moves about 3-5 working days slower than normal mail. Mail is rarely lost as long as it is addressed properly. International mail can take up to one week longer for delivery. If you emailed an inmate using our email forwarding service, messages are sent on the 4th and 20th of each month.

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10) I would like to write an inmate pen-pal on WriteAPrisoner.com as a friend, but the inmate I want to write is only looking for romance. Should I write them anyway?

Some inmates do place profiles on our website geared toward romance. While we strongly encourage them not to do this because it hinders their ability to get mail, we have found that most still welcome a pen-pal relationship.

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11) Do I need to include my mailing address in the 'Message' section of the email an inmate form, or is it already included because I entered it above?

Addresses do not need to be listed in the 'Message' section of the email an inmate form. They are automatically added when you complete this form.

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12) The inmate that I have been writing to suddenly stopped. Why?

There are several legitimate reasons why an inmate suddenly stops writing. Inmates are moved frequently, even within an institution, so this could be a factor. Also, mail can be lost, the inmate could be sick, or perhaps the inmate is short on funds for postage. In addition, an inmate's possessions are typically limited to a box or two. If these boxes were to be lost or stolen, it is possible that the inmate no longer has your address. Try writing another letter. If you don't hear back from the inmate, use our Inmate Locator to verify that the inmate's address hasn't changed. It is very rare that an inmate will abandon a pen-pal. However, depression can be a reason that your prison pen-pal has stopped writing. Don't give up on them without thoroughly examining the situation.

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13) What do the "Verified Crime" and "Verified Photo" images mean on inmate profiles?

The Verified Photo and Verified Crime images appear when WriteAPrisoner.com was able to verify that information through a government website. When an inmate does not have these verification images displayed, it simply means that we are unable to verify them. It does not mean that we believe the inmate is being deceptive, only that WriteAPrisoner.com was unable to confirm the information through a government website. While we do take these precautionary measures when available, we always encourage you to verify the information as well by using the links provided.

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14) I am a researcher from a university, and I would like to contact some of your members. Is it okay for me to write to them?

Yes. Additionally, we will mail up to one hundred printed surveys out to inmates on your behalf. The recipients will all be randomly selected inmates within the United States. The survey must contain a return address, and it must fit onto one page, front and back print.

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