How Is Mail Processed in a Prison?

Have you ever wondered about the process your mail goes through before making it to your incarcerated loved one? There may be more to it than you think. The general process is that the mail is shipped, sorted, scanned for contraband, and then given to the inmate. However, it is not always that simple, as correctional facilities can face many roadblocks in the mailroom. In today’s post, we break down the things you probably don’t know about mail processing in a prison.

How Is Mail Processed in a Prison?

Sometimes Mail Arrives Unsorted

Prisons use the U.S. Postal Service to handle their mail, however, not all use it to their advantage. Some facilities only use one mailbox to receive regular inmate mail, legal mail, and administrative mail — which all arrives at once, unsorted. This means that the prison has to use extra time and bandwidth of their employees to sort through these types of mail before they can be processed. 

Some Prisons Use Correctional Officers to Sort Through Mail

Most correctional facilities are overwhelmed with the amount of mail they receive and therefore have to process. Due to this, the mailroom workers are sometimes assisted by correctional officers with a light workload, or on the night shift while inmates are sleeping. They can assist with the separating of types of mail as well as search mail for contraband. For more information on what prisoners are allowed to receive, click here

Standard Mail Processing is Often Delayed

If it seems like your standard mail sent to your incarcerated loved one takes longer to arrive, that is due to the processing delays many prisons face. Legal and certified mail is processed immediately, while regular mail is set aside to be searched to identify items requiring more inspection. This includes mail with enclosures such as stamps, photos, money orders, or contraband. When something with contraband is found, the mail process for all mail comes to a halt while the contraband is addressed. This can cause long delays, as many facilities have their workers hand-write the forms about why the piece of mail is not accepted. 

Duplicate Logs Take Extra Time

The Prison Legal News found that prisons spend significant amounts of time creating duplicate logs when processing legal mail. Legal mail often gets priority over other mail in these facilities, but the double processing can take up a lot of time, creating delays for other types of mail. Many prisons require three types of logging for this mail: first on a hand-written form, then in a logbook used to record legal letters processed by date, and third, into an Excel database spreadsheet. Mailroom employees said this logging takes approximately an hour a day to complete, taking their time away from other types of mail, like personal photos.

Although it may face roadblocks and delays, sending mail to your incarcerated loved one is a great way to stay connected, which will benefit them in the long run. Pelipost is here to help you with this process and assure that your mail will be received by your incarcerated loved one. 

Ready to send pictures? You can download the Pelipost app through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

How Many Pictures Can You Send to Someone In Jail?

Keeping in contact with your incarcerated loved one is proven to positively impact their mental health and overall well being. One of the best ways to keep up your relationship with them — next to in-person visits and phone calls — is to send them photos of your family and what is going on in your lives. Photographs can be a great way to brighten your inmate’s day and is a possession they will cherish. However, there are rules and regulations in place in regards to inmates receiving photos. The Pelipost team has put together these tips for how many pictures you can send to someone in jail. 

Check With the Facility 

The first thing to keep in mind is that rules and regulations vary from facility to facility when it comes to sending mail to inmates. As a general rule of thumb, it is a good idea to check with the specific correctional facility your loved one is located at before sending them photos. Most of the time this can be confirmed through the facility’s website, but if you are still unsure, we recommend calling the facility directly. It is better to check beforehand to ensure that your photos will be accepted rather than returned to you by the facility. 

Cap It at 50

Although it is important to double check with your incarcerated loved one’s specific facility, most jails and prisons allow inmates to have up to 50 photos in their possession. As the sender, you should keep track of the number of photographs you send to make sure they get to keep the pictures that are most important. Before sending the photos, make sure they follow these guidelines for appropriate content that the correctional facility will accept. 

Talk With Your Loved One

Your incarcerated loved one is a great resource to find out information about their facility. Ask them directly: how many pictures you can send to someone jail? Are there any rules or regulations that I should be aware of?

If your inmate has had the same group of photos for a while and is ready for a refresh, they may not tell you up front. The next time you talk to your inmate, ask if they might want new photos. If they’ve reached their photo limit, they may be ready for more recent images of family celebrations and holidays, and willing to retire a few. Especially if any family members have experienced life-changing events, like graduating, getting their first car, meeting Santa for the first time, or getting married. Photos of these events will be a welcome addition for your loved one. We recommend sharing as much as you can!

Let Pelipost Help You Out

Once you are ready to send photos to your inmate, make sure to download Pelipost and follow these steps for an overall smooth transaction. Pelipost does not have a cap for the amount of photos you can send through the app, but the team will work with you to fit the guidelines from your loved one’s prison. With Pelipost, you can stay connected to your incarcerated loved one easily and securely, and include them in your family’s big events through photographic mementos.

Ready to send your pictures? You can download the Pelipost app through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

Picture Ideas for Inmates: What to Send Your Incarcerated Loved One

Sending photos to a loved one while they are incarcerated can be a great way to lift their spirits and foster your relationship during a difficult time. Staying connected to someone in jail can help their well-being — both emotionally and behaviorally — and can increase their chances of successful rehabilitation and good life choices upon release. If you are ready to send a photo to an inmate, but don’t know where to start, Pelipost has created a list of ideas for what kind of pictures to send to your incarcerated loved one. 

Smiles of Family and Friends

Your inmate probably misses seeing the smiling faces of loved ones on a day to day basis. Seeing friends and family members through a photograph may not be the same, but can be a great way to lift spirits during a tough time and remind inmates that they are not alone. These types of photos are best with a clear background and no objects, tattoos, or hand symbols pictured.  

Special Events 

Whether it’s a wedding, birthday, holiday, or accomplishment, your incarcerated loved one probably feels as if they are missing out on big moments in life. Capturing photos of special events and sending them to your incarcerated loved one can help them to feel included in your life and share in the joy that you felt during these big moments. 

Pictures of Pets

Who doesn’t love seeing a photo of an adorable, happy pet? Your loved one is probably missing the warmth and cuddles from their furry friend while incarcerated, and seeing a photo of their beloved pet can brighten their spirits. Whether your pet is covered in feathers, scales, or fur, a cute photo of them is a great memento to send to your inmate. 

Picture Ideas for Inmates: Pictures of Pets

Drawings From Kids

A drawing from a child is a heartwarming gift that will bring a smile to your loved one’s face. Children often express emotions through drawing pictures and giving them to loved ones, which does not have to change while that person is in jail. Sending photos of drawings can be a great way for both the child and the inmate to feel connected to one another during their time spent apart. By having a child create a special piece for your incarcerated loved one, they can also process emotions they might be feeling while missing your loved one.

Picture Ideas for Inmates: Drawings From Kids

Happy Memories

Reflecting on happy memories can help us to feel the joy we did in those precious moments. Photos of past holidays, vacations, milestones, and other happy memories can bring joy to your inmate. Sending an image of a cherished memory will remind your incarcerated loved one of good times, and how much they are loved. 

While there are many great ways to cheer up your inmate during your time apart, these photo ideas will definitely bring a smile to their face. Now that you have likely collected a bevy of images to send to your incarcerated loved one, make sure to download Pelipost for a seamless shipping process. Before you send, click here to learn more about what you’re allowed to send to a prison to ensure your photos make it to your loved one.

Ready to send pictures? You can download the Pelipost app through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

Inmate Mail Rights: What Are Inmates Allowed to Send & Recieve?

With heavier restrictions on visitation in jails due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most incarcerated people are currently relying on the postal service and mail for communication with the outside world.

With all the rules and regulations related to this, navigating communication with your incarcerated loved one can be confusing. Here are some tips on inmate mail rights and what they are allowed to send and receive while incarcerated. 

What are Inmate Mail Rights?

Inmates have the right to send and receive mail while incarcerated, as protected by the First Amendment. Under the First Amendment, U.S. citizens have the right to the freedom of speech. Freedom of speech includes the right to read books and magazines, the right to call or write to your family and friends, the right to criticize government or state officials, and much more. The rules of this amendment apply to inmates, however, censorship regulations exist for those who have been incarcerated. 

Mail Censorship

Due to the nature of the situation of incarceration, the center where your loved one is located may inspect and censor mail for security reasons. The difference depends on whether or not the mail is privileged. Privileged mail is mail that includes things such as attorney-client communications, and must be clearly marked. This type of mail has much more confidentiality and freedom from censorship than non-privileged mail.

Non-privileged mail includes commercial mail, letters from family members, friends and businesses. This type of mail can be opened and censored by prison officials without a warrant for security reasons. This means that personal letters and photos you send may be restricted by the workers at the facility if they are deemed inappropriate, dangerous, or a security threat. 

Although personal mail may be more prone to censorship, you have the right to send photos and letters to your loved one in prison. There are restrictions and regulations on the types of pictures you can send to prison, but if you follow all the guidelines,  your mail should make it to your incarcerated loved one. 

5 Tips to Avoid Mail Censorship

  1. Avoid photos of or language about guns, weapons, gangs, or other forms of violence. 
  2. Avoid images and descriptions of drugs and drug paraphernalia.
  3. Do not include sexually explicit content or nudity. This includes partial nudity and images of children who are not fully clothed.
  4. Do not send photos of money or write about it.
  5. Avoid photos where a person is holding up a hand sign, including a thumbs up or peace sign. 

Returned Mail

If the mail you sent arrives at the facility and ends up being censored by prison officials, both the sender and receiver have the right to be notified. The notification should explain to you why the mail was censored, so you can understand the reason and better prepare for next time. Rules and regulations may vary from facility to facility, so looking up the guidelines for the specific location before sending your mail is recommended. 

If you are looking for an easier way to send photos to your loved ones, partner with Pelipost! We can help ensure that your incarcerated loved ones get the mementos you’re looking to send them, and take the guesswork out of the process.

Ready to send pictures? You can download the Pelipost app through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

7 Tips on What to Talk About When Visiting Someone In Jail

It can be complicated to know just what to talk about when visiting someone in jail, even if they’re a loved one that you’re very close to. However, fostering that connection with your incarcerated loved one can be very beneficial to them long-term.  Studies have shown that incarcerated men and women who maintain contact with supportive family members are more likely to succeed after their release. Before taking the trip to their facility, read our tips on what to talk about when visiting someone in jail to help you prepare. 

1. Share your joys

Sharing the positive events in your life, no matter how small, is a great place to start. Your incarcerated loved one wants to feel connected with you and with what is going on in your life. Talking about things like good grades in school, promotions at work, who is dating who, engagements, marriages, babies, etc. will help your inmate catch up with what is going on in your life. Even the small joys that might seem insignificant to you will be important to them, and make them feel as if they are still included in the outside world. 

2.  Let them know they are loved

One of the most important ways to show your inmate that they are loved is simply showing up. As most facilities are a long drive away, it means the world to them that you take the time to travel to visit. Your incarcerated loved one may feel lots of guilt and emotional baggage, and assuring them that they are worth the trouble of visiting can make them feel loved and important. 

 3. Lend a listening ear

Sharing the joys and triumphs in your life is meaningful, but listening can be equally important. The person in jail may not have an outlet for sharing personal thoughts, feelings, and experiences, and lending a comforting listening ear can make all the difference. 

4.  Be wary of future planning 

Discussing future plans can be a very touchy subject. Release dates can be very uncertain, and talking about the future may be difficult for the inmate to think about. For the most part focusing on past memories, fun moments, and joyful times together are better to discuss than plans for the future.

5.  Don’t be scared of emotions

Talking about and working through emotions is a very necessary part of visiting a loved one in jail. It can be a very difficult journey for them, with a lot of pain and sadness. Discussing how they are feeling, and maybe crying together, are good to go through in the beginning of your visit so you can end your time with the joyful things. 

6. What to avoid

The topics you should be wary about bringing up vary from person to person. Certain tough subjects like death in the family, struggles the person is facing on the outside, and other issues that the incarcerated person cannot be of any help with are best to avoid. The inmate may already be feeling helpless and disconnected from their loved ones, and do not need the additional pressure of the person on the outside’s struggles. 

7. Continue to stay in touch 

Visiting an incarcerated loved one is very valuable, but staying in touch in between visits is essential as well. Staying connected can be very beneficial to the inmate and remind them that they are loved and valued. Sending photos to your incarcerated loved ones using Pelipost can help foster your relationship with one another and stay in touch. 

Ready to send pictures? You can download the Pelipost app through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

What Kind of Pictures Can You Send to Prison?

Sharing photos with incarcerated loved ones is a great way to stay in touch, uplift your loved one, and empower yourself during a difficult time. But what kind of pictures can you send to prison? Most facilities have restrictions on the size and content of photos sent to inmates. If you do not follow the facility’s guidelines, your photo will be returned and your inmate will not receive it. To ensure that your photo makes it to your loved one, Pelipost has created the following guidelines:

What size can your photo be? 

Answer: The size restrictions and regulations will vary depending on where your loved one is located. We encourage you to look at the website of the specific facility to ensure you have the proper sizing. 

Can you send a photo if there are drugs pictured? 

Answer: NO. Facilities will not accept photos of drugs, individuals using drugs, or drug paraphernalia. This includes anything from a photo of someone smoking marijuana to drug-related imagery in the background. Double check the photo to ensure there are no drugs pictured in the background. Use a plain, clean background and if you are unsure if something is drug related, don’t include it.

Can you send a photo of money to an inmate?

Answer: NO. Do not send photos of you fanning yourself with money, a graduation lei, or any other form of money. Instead, put down the cash and focus on subjects like family members, friends, or pets.

Can you send a photo of a weapon?

Answer: NO. Weapons are not permitted in photos sent to inmates. This ranges anywhere from knives to guns. If it is classified as a weapon, don’t include it. When in doubt, leave it out. 

Can you send a photo of a person? 

Answer: YES. It is encouraged to send your incarcerated loved ones photos of friends and family. However, make sure the photo adheres to the other guidelines regarding the person’s appearance and the activities pictured. 

Can you send a photo of a person doing a thumbs up or peace sign?

Answer: NO. Do not send photos where a person is holding up any form of hand gesture. This is not limited to gang signs, but gestures like peace signs or a thumbs up as well. In most cases, you cannot cover up the hand gesture with an emoji. Instead, send photos where the subjects are not holding up any form of hand sign. To play it safe, you could crop the subject’s hands out of the photo. 

Can you send a photo of your pet?

Answer: YES. Photos of beloved pets are allowed to be sent to your incarcerated loved one as long as they adhere to other guidelines. 

Can you send a photo of your child?

Answer: YES. Children are allowed in photos. However, DO NOT send photos where a child is partially or fully undressed. This includes bathtime, diaper pictures, or swimsuit photos of an infant or child. Make sure any child pictured is fully clothed. This will ensure the safety of your child and that the photo will be allowed in the facility.

Can you send bathing suit pictures to inmates?

Answer: NO. Very few facilities allow nudity or anything that could be considered sexually explicit photos. To play it safe, make sure all subjects are fully clothed with no cleavage. Assure that the subject’s pose is not sexually suggestive, either. 

We encourage you to visit your incarcerated loved one’s facility website to verify individual rules and regulations. You are also welcome to reach out to us via email at with any questions. We’re here to help!

In particular, the LA County rules are very strict. Click here to learn about rules and guidelines specific to LA County.

Once you understand what kind of pictures you can send to prison, you can partner with PeliPost, or follow the process we shared on our blog.

How to Cope With a Family Member in Jail

If you have ever wondered how to cope with a family member in jail then you already know that it can be quite the emotional rollercoaster. It’s normal to feel anxious, sad, scared, or uncertain. You also may be experiencing loneliness. That’s because, according to a recent survey, less than half of Americans have ever had a family member incarcerated. So, in addition to missing your incarcerated loved one, you may find yourself feeling isolated in your experience.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and don’t know how to begin to cope, we’re here to help. Here is a list of things you can do to feel more connected to your incarcerated loved one, and more in control of your situation.

Visit Your Loved One Regularly

One way to directly combat your loneliness is to plan visits to your incarcerated loved one. Different jails have different rules for in-person visits, so we recommend looking into limitations and schedules to ensure your visits are smooth and successful. Studies have shown that face-to-face communication is better for your emotional health. It helps us better understand the person with whom we’re communicating with. Particularly if you find yourself worrying about your incarcerated loved one, visiting them can help you understand and empathize with what they’re going through. Visits are also a great way to get a better read on their emotional well-being.

Write Letters

Writing letters has been shown to make the letter-writer feel more satisfied, and to decrease any depressive symptoms they may be experiencing. Letters are a treasured gift that inmates will appreciate. By writing a letter, you’ll have more time to think about everything you might want to share with your loved one. You can provide updates that your family member can go back and reread in difficult times. A letter will make them feel connected with you and the life they know outside of prison. You can also explore your feelings through written art — poetry, sketches, and doodles can help you process what you and your family are going through.

Share Photos

Perhaps more than anything, inmates want to be able to see the people they love so they can feel included in life on the outside. Letters are cherished but to receive an envelope with photos is the ultimate prize when you’re inside those walls. Given the limited interaction while incarcerated, staying connected with loved ones has numerous benefits. The memories that are missed by those incarcerated often serve as powerful reminders and mental motivation.

It’s not always easy to find time to print out pictures to send to your family member — which is why the Pelipost app was founded in the first place. You can upload your photos directly from your smartphone to the Pelipost app and they’ll print and ship them for you. They are the official ‘Photos-to-Prison’ app and have a great customer service team that can help you navigate through this journey with your incarcerated loved one.

When a family member is incarcerated, it can make you feel helpless and lost. By taking direct actions to remain in close contact with them, you’ll be able to feel more in charge of your experience. It is so important to their rehabilitation to show them how much you care.

You can download the Pelipost app through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

How To Send Pictures to Inmates

There are many benefits to staying in touch with an inmate — for you and your incarcerated loved one. If you’re wondering how to send pictures to inmates then you’ve come to the right place. We will be going over the important correctional facility guidelines that you need to follow to ensure your loved one receives your pictures.

Required Information to Include

A great place to start is double checking that you have the correct inmate ID number and inmate mailing address. The most common mistake is when the inmate name and inmate ID number do not match. This results in your loved one not receiving those beautiful pictures and the mail being returned to sender. You can easily do an inmate search by visiting the correctional facility’s website where your loved one is located. Keep in mind that the facility mailing address can be different from the inmate mailing address. You will need to locate the actual ‘inmate mailing address’ which can be found on the correctional facility’s website.

In regard to the photos themselves, you should print the inmate’s name and inmate ID number on the back of each photo in pen. This can help the mail room staff keep things organized and ensure your photos are delivered in a timely manner. Don’t forget to always include a return address on your envelopes.

Size and Number Restrictions

Size restrictions and rules for the number of pictures allowed per envelope will vary based on where your loved one is located. It’s a good idea to verify the specific restrictions of your loved one’s correctional facility. By reaching out in advance and/or visiting the correctional facility’s website, you’ll ensure that your pictures will be delivered to your loved one instead of returned to sender. In particular, LA county jails tend to have the strictest rules, which you can look into more here.

Content Restrictions

When you are going to send pictures to inmates, there are some content restrictions that you should be aware of. The most common are the following:

  • No drugs (ex. smoking marijuana)
  • No money
  • No weapons
  • No gang hand gestures (Includes the peace sign and even if covered by an emoji)
  • No partially or undressed children
  • No sexually explicit (very few facilities allow nudity)
No gang hand gestures including peace signs.
No partially or undressed children

An Easier Way

Looking up the right information specific to your loved one’s facility, buying the right amount of stamps, ensuring all of your content is acceptable — there are quite a few steps standing between you and your incarcerated loved one. The Pelipost app is a great resource to help you through this process. You can easily upload your photos to the Pelipost app from your phone, Facebook, or Instagram, then we take it from there! Your pictures will reach your loved one’s facility in about three to five business days, and you can stay connected with ease. Plus, Pelipost offers 24/7 customer support in case you have questions or concerns.

Whatever path you take, know that your incarcerated loved ones’ days, weeks, and months can be made through the simple act of sharing pictures of their family and friends. Take the time to reach out, and you’ll be sending out a ripple affect of positivity. 

Ready to send pictures? You can download the Pelipost app through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.