what can you put in prison letters

What Can You Put in Prison Letters

Prison can be an isolating and lonely place, and receiving letters from loved ones can provide a much-needed connection to the outside world. Writing letters to someone in prison is a powerful way to show support, express love, and provide encouragement. However, when it comes to composing prison letters, there are certain guidelines, restrictions, and considerations that need to be taken into account to ensure the smooth transmission and receipt of the correspondence.


In this article, we will explore the world of prison letters and provide you with valuable insights on what you can put in these letters. From understanding the purpose of prison letters to learning about the guidelines and restrictions, we will cover everything you need to know to compose meaningful and appropriate correspondence. So, let’s delve into the topic and discover the art of writing prison letters.

Understanding Prison Letters

Definition of Prison Letters

Prison letters are written correspondences sent to individuals who are incarcerated in correctional facilities. These letters serve as a lifeline for inmates, offering emotional support, news, updates, and a connection to the world beyond the prison walls.

Purpose of Prison Letters

The primary purpose of prison letters is to maintain a sense of connection and support for the incarcerated individual. They provide a window into the outside world, helping inmates feel less isolated and forgotten. Additionally, letters can offer encouragement, motivation, and a reminder of the love and support they have from family and friends.

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Guidelines and Restrictions for Writing Prison Letters

General Guidelines for Writing Prison Letters

When writing prison letters, it’s essential to follow certain general guidelines to ensure the smooth processing and delivery of your correspondence. These guidelines include:

  1. Use a legible handwriting or consider typing the letter.
  2. Include a return address on the envelope and letter.
  3. Clearly write the inmate’s full name, prison identification number, and the correct mailing address.
  4. Ensure the letter is free from any substances or attachments that may violate prison regulations.
  5. Remember that all letters are subject to inspection by prison authorities.

Restrictions on Content and Format

While the guidelines mentioned above are essential, it’s equally important to understand the restrictions imposed on the content and format of prison letters. These restrictions aim to maintain security within the correctional facility. Some common restrictions include:

  1. Prohibition of offensive, threatening, or violent language.
  2. Restrictions on discussing ongoing criminal activities.
  3. No inclusion of explicit or pornographic material.
  4. Limitations on the number of pages or total weight of the letter.
  5. Bans on sending certain items such as stickers, glitter, or money.

What to Include in Prison Letters

When composing prison letters, it’s crucial to consider the content that will bring joy, comfort, and a sense of connection to the recipient. Here are some ideas on what you can include in your prison letters:

Emotional Support and Encouragement

Incarceration can be emotionally challenging, so offering support and encouragement is paramount. Share positive affirmations, express your love and belief in their ability to overcome difficulties, and offer words of encouragement and hope.

News and Updates from the Outside World

Keeping the incarcerated individual informed about what’s happening in their social circle and the world is highly valuable. Share family news, updates on friends, and general updates about events or developments they may find interesting.

Personal Stories and Memories

Recalling shared memories, funny anecdotes, and personal stories can help evoke positive emotions and foster a sense of connection. Sharing experiences can remind the incarcerated person that they are not alone and that they are still a cherished part of their loved ones’ lives.

Inspirational Quotes and Poems

Including inspirational quotes or poems in your prison letters can uplift the spirits of the recipient. Choose motivational messages that resonate with them and provide encouragement during their time of confinement.

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Books, Articles, and Educational Materials

Prison can also be an opportunity for personal growth and learning. Consider sending books, articles, or educational materials related to the recipient’s interests. These resources can offer intellectual stimulation and help them develop new skills or expand their knowledge.

Photos and Drawings

Visual representations of loved ones and cherished memories can bring immense comfort to those in prison. Include photographs of family, friends, pets, or memorable places. If you have artistic skills, consider including drawings or sketches to add a personal touch.

Stamps and Stationery

Incarcerated individuals often have limited access to stationery and stamps. Including extra stamps and stationery in your letters can be greatly appreciated, allowing them to correspond with others or write their own letters.

Legal and Financial Assistance Information

If the person you’re writing to requires legal or financial assistance, providing relevant information or resources can be invaluable. Include contact details for organizations that can offer support or guidance in these areas.

What Not to Include in Prison Letters

While it’s crucial to provide comfort and support through prison letters, there are certain things that should be avoided. Here are some examples of what you should not include in your prison letters:

Illegal or Inappropriate Content

Avoid discussing or encouraging any illegal activities in your letters. Engaging in or promoting illegal behavior can have serious consequences for both the inmate and the sender of the letter.

Encouragement of Illegal Activities

Refrain from providing instructions or support for activities that violate prison rules or regulations. It’s important to respect the law and the restrictions imposed on inmates.

Detailed Personal Information

Be cautious about sharing detailed personal information in your letters. Remember that all correspondence is subject to inspection, so it’s essential to protect sensitive information such as addresses, financial details, or personal identification numbers.

Graphic or Violent Descriptions

Avoid including graphic or violent descriptions in your letters. Remember that the purpose of the correspondence is to provide support and connection, not to provoke negative emotions or disturbing thoughts.

Controversial or Sensitive Topics

Steer clear of controversial or sensitive topics that may cause distress or disagreement. Focus on positive and uplifting content that can bring joy and comfort to the recipient.

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Tips for Writing Effective Prison Letters

To ensure your prison letters have the desired impact, consider the following tips:

Be Positive and Uplifting

Maintain a positive and uplifting tone in your letters. The purpose is to bring comfort and encouragement to the recipient, so avoid dwelling on negative aspects or indulging in pity.

Respect the Rules and Regulations

Adhere to the guidelines and restrictions set by the correctional facility. Respecting the rules shows your consideration and understanding of the importance of security and order within the prison environment.

Use Clear and Concise Language

Write in a clear and concise manner to ensure that your message is easily understood. Avoid using complicated language or jargon that may be challenging for the recipient to comprehend.

Consider the Recipient’s Interests and Needs

Tailor your letters to the recipient’s interests and needs. Pay attention to their preferences, hobbies, or topics they find engaging. This personalization can make your letters more meaningful and enjoyable for the incarcerated individual.


Writing prison letters can be a powerful way to provide support, encouragement, and a sense of connection to individuals who are incarcerated. By following the guidelines, restrictions, and suggestions outlined in this article, you can compose meaningful and appropriate correspondence that brings comfort and uplifts the spirits of the recipients.

Remember, your words can make a significant difference in the lives of those in prison, reminding them that they are not alone and that they are still loved and valued. So pick up your pen, let your words flow, and bring a ray of hope to someone’s world behind bars.


Can I send money in prison letters?

No, it is generally not allowed to send money in prison letters. However, you can explore other options such as using approved financial services or depositing funds directly into the inmate’s account as permitted by the correctional facility.

Are there any restrictions on the number of pages?

Some correctional facilities impose restrictions on the number of pages that can be included in a prison letter. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the specific guidelines of the facility to ensure compliance.

Can I send books or magazines?

Yes, in many cases, you can send books or magazines to inmates. However, there may be restrictions on the format or source of the reading material. Check with the correctional facility for their specific guidelines.

How long does it take for a prison letter to reach its destination?

The time it takes for a prison letter to reach its destination can vary depending on various factors, including the facility’s procedures, mail volume, and any security checks required. It’s advisable to allow extra time for the delivery of your correspondence.

Can I send greeting cards or postcards?

Greeting cards and postcards are generally permitted, but they may be subject to inspection and size restrictions. Ensure that the content of the cards adheres to the guidelines and restrictions set by the correctional facility.

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