Communication barriers can be created by having someone in prison or jail. One is that your friend or relative is now in a cell and can only eat, drink and talk to visitors if they are allowed. Most people want to know how they can call their inmate. You can’t call your inmate. They can only make outgoing calls.
People make the common error of calling the facility and asking staff to relay a message for their inmate. Staff will not ‘take a note’ and can often become annoyed by being asked. So resist the temptation to ask the staff and wait for the inmate’s call. What time will the inmate call? The answer is complex. If the person was just arrested, they will be allowed call you after the booking process has completed. It could take a while for them to be allowed to call someone if they have been sentenced. To understand why, you need to first understand the classification and intake process.
Inmates were kept in prison for long periods of time and released when they served their sentence. This was a punishment-based model of incarceration. Correctional facilities now use a rehabilitation model that focuses on finding out the reason for the crime and then attempting to recondition the inmate so that he or she can be a productive member in society. Inmates must be first classified and undergo a comprehensive medical, physical and psychological examination. Inmates are not allowed to visit, make phone calls or receive mail during the intake and classification process. This can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks. Staff will observe and test the inmates and assign them a permanent location and treatment for any crime they believe to be the root cause.
Things that Affect Inmates’ Ability to Make Phone Contacts
There are many situations that could affect an inmate’s ability to make phone call, including:
- Inmate who hasn’t completed the intake process is usually not allowed to access the inmate telephone system.
- Phone restrictions will be in effect for most or all offenders while the facility is locked down.
- Inmates do not have enough funds to pay their telephone bills. However, some facilities allow for outgoing calls.
- Inmate phones may not be able to access the internet due to severe weather or power outages.
- Telephone access can be restricted for inmates who are being held accountable for poor behavior or rule violations.
- Some facilities have restrictions on who an inmate may call. They allow only approved family members or those who are on the approved visitation list.
- Finally, an inmate might not be able make a phone call because they do not have your number. It is best to send a letter to the inmate with your number and any other numbers that you may require.
How do the calls work?
Each facility has a time limit for inmates to call. It is usually between 8am and 11pm, but it will vary from one facility to the next. Inmates are not allowed to make outgoing calls before the morning roundup and count. If there are any problems, the facility will delay turning the phones on. Inmates are prohibited from using telephones during lockdown.
Only outgoing calls are permitted for inmates. Incoming calls are not allowed under any circumstances. Calls can only be made by collect call. Cell phones are not allowed to receive collect calls. Pre-paid phone accounts can be set up by third-party vendors for inmates. These are only a few of the companies that offer phone services to inmates:
- Global Tel Link
- IC Solutions
You can receive calls if you are eligible
Some facilities may require you to be on the approved phone list of an inmate. In most cases, when an inmate is admitted, they will provide a list of numbers to be included on the list. You are unlikely to be on the list if the inmate doesn’t know your number. The good news is that you can add your name to the list anytime the inmate has your number. It is best to send the inmate a letter containing your number. Texas, for example, has a website that allows you to register your number with the department corrections. This will allow you to receive calls from offenders.
Although not all facilities require that you be on the approved list, you may still have problems receiving calls from inmates. One reason people cannot get a call from an inmate is that they do not have a cell phone. Cell phones can’t receive any collect calls. This can be avoided by opening a pre-paid account with one of the companies mentioned above. Another problem is that people don’t realize they have their calls blocked by their telephone provider.
Sometimes calls drop in the middle of conversations. This is often due to three-way calling or the call waiting feature. If you experience many dropped calls, call waiting can cause the call to drop. Three-way calling is prohibited. It will almost always result in the call not going through.
Another thing to remember is that all calls are recorded. It is not a good idea for inmates to discuss possible crimes, as this could lead to additional charges.
Reduce the cost of inmate call
To reduce the cost of calling someone who is in prison or jail, the simplest way to lower the cost of calling them is to limit how long you spend on the phone and the frequency of calls. This is not ideal as you still want to hear the voices of your loved ones, but it can have a significant impact on the overall charges for offender calls. It is important to have a list of things you wish to discuss with the inmate. This will eliminate awkward silences and lulls in your conversation and allow you to make the most of your phone time. It is cheaper to make a longer call once per week than to make several shorter calls daily. This is because of the connection fee for inmate calls. A lower connection fee equals less money spent.
People who use these companies complain about the high fees and high prices. However, there are ways to lower the cost. You can reduce the cost of calls by getting a local number. Long distance calls via the above providers are what causes the cost to skyrocket so it is worth setting up a local number.
Do not let companies such as InmateAid charge you a large fee to get you a local phone number. You can easily get one for free online. Our Saving Money on Inmate calls page will show you how to get your local number for free.
You can find more information about inmate calls by visiting our website. Click the blue bar at top of page or going to our homepage. You can ask general questions here. Any questions about inmate calls at specific facilities should be posted to that facility’s page.