Frequently Asked Questions
How do I write a prisoner?  If you are 18 or older, use their postal address listed in their ad and write directly to them.

What is a DOC#?  It stands for Department of Corrections.  It is a number that the state or federal DOC gives a prisoner.  It is in their ad, and you must include it in their address for them to get mail.

I feel nervous about writing a prisoner, what should I do?  We suggest using a PO Box address, and of course only tell what you want them to know.  Prisoners are just like people on the streets.  There are some good and some bad.  ALWAYS use common sense!

How do I get a prisoner listed?  We have all the information on-line - just cllick

Can a prisoner get e-mail?  Some.  You need to write to the prisoner to as them.  Each institution rules vary.

I want to write a prisoner, but I am not 18 yet, can I still do it?  Sorry, no.  It is not just our policy, but many prisons policies as well.  You must be 18 or older to write a prisoner.

How many prisoners can I write?  There is no limit!  Pick as many as you can be a good pen pal to and write.  The only requirement is you have to be 18 or older.

Can prisoners get stamps, gifts, etc?  Each prison has its own rules that are constantly changing.  It is best to ask your pen pal directly or ask the prison office if you want to surprise your pen pal.

How do I contact the prison office?  Simply write to the same address that your pen pal is at, only do not put their name and DOC # on the envelope with the address.  Instead, write PRISON ADMINISTRATION and then simply ask your questions.  Some prisons have prepared lists they will send you.

How do I find out a criminal history on a person?  Contact the prison, as listed above, and ask them how you do this.  Every state, county and federal prison has different rules.

Do you have the address for prisons?  The Federal Bureau of Prisons and each State Department of Corrections is online.  You can find them there.

My letter to a prisoner was returned to me since I didn't have the barracks #.  How can I get it?  The address that appears in the ad is what the prisoner has given us.  We update the address when the prisoner writes and tell us about an address change.  If they don't write us with their new address we have no way of knowing it.  The best way to get the complete address is to write to the prison office and ask for it.  Include a SASE for them to reply back to you faster.  You can also call the prison and ask their administration office.

I sent in a friends ad and haven't seen it yet - what's the story?  Our ad processing time is 2 to 4 weeks, but we usually get them up sooner.  You should check under the new prisoner listings first.  We put the ads there to feature them and get the prisoners pen pals fast!

My prisoner friend wants me to change their ad, can I do this?  Sorry, no.  Only the prisoner can make any changes to their ad.  They need to put their request in writing and mail it to our office.  We do this to protect the privacy of their ad and make sure no one changes it when they do not so desire it.  You can however pay for the ad change for the prisoner and let them know to mail in their new ad.

How can I help PrisonPenPals?  There are many ways we can use your help.  Contact the media in your area and ask them to do a story on the site, send links to our sites to friends, post information about our site on bulletin boards and social media, organize pen pal writing groups, but the most important thing is to write a prisoner!  That is why we are here and it is not possible without your help.

How do I organize a book drive for prisoners?  Since each prison makes their own rules and all are different, the first thing to do is pick a prison that is close to you.  Then contact the librarian there to find out their rules and see what kind of books they need.  Next, get creative with collecting the books.  Ask friends and family to help.  Take boxes to work, stores, libraries, churches, etc., and put a sign up about what you are doing and why.  You will be surprised how many people will help out.  Always get permission first though!  Get creative and have fun.  We always love to hear about the book drives, so let us know how it went.

How often are the ads updated?  We ask the prisoners to let us know any address changes, etc., and make changes to the site on a daily basis.  We place new ad lists weekly.