First Time Visiting Someone In Jail? What You Need to Know.

When a loved one is incarcerated, it is important to stay in touch with them to keep your relationship alive and boost their mental well-being. A great way to foster your connection and bring a smile to their face is to visit them in person. A face-to-face interaction will help your incarcerated loved one be reminded that they are not alone, and help keep your bond alive. However, visiting an incarcerated person is not a simple, spur-of-the-moment, as often as you want type of thing. There are many procedures and protocols you must follow to be able to have a stress free visit. If it’s your first time visiting someone in jail, follow these do’s and don’ts before you go. 

First Time Visiting Someone In Jail

DO: Check the specific facility’s rules

Before making any plans to visit your incarcerated loved one, you must check the rules and regulations of the specific facility where they are being held. You can either check the facility’s website or give them a call if the information is not listed online. This first step is imperative before you move on to planning your visit.

DON’T: Show up unannounced 

Visiting a jail is not like going to the mall, taking a trip to the zoo, or going to grandma’s house—you cannot show up whenever you please. You must schedule a visit ahead of time with the specific facility you are visiting. Typically, there is an approval process each visitor must go through before they can schedule a visit. The facility will have limits on how often you can visit as well. 

DO: Adhere to the rules

The more you follow the rules, the smoother your visit will be. Things like arriving early, bringing the proper documentation, and supervising children are all very important. Doing so will ensure you are allowed to see your incarcerated loved one and that’s the ultimate goal right?

DON’T: Break the dress code

Most jails and prisons have a strict dress code for visitors coming in to see inmates. A general rule of thumb is to avoid tight fitting, see-through, and midriff-baring clothing. Avoid shorts and ripped jeans, and wear closed-toed shoes. You should wear undergarments and socks as well. It is also important to avoid any clothing that could be considered gang related. Also make sure to avoid wearing the same color as the inmates. The color they wear and the specific visitor dress code can usually be found on the facility’s website.  

DO: Talk about the important things

With visits being limited in time and frequency, use this time to talk about the important things with your loved one. Try to avoid sensitive topics like release dates, and focus on what your inmate wants to discuss. Check out more tips on what to talk about with your incarcerated loved one here

DON’T: Bring them any items

To avoid the trading of contraband from guests, it is important to note that you cannot bring your incarcerated loved one any items when you visit. Most facilities will allow you to bring in cash for the vending machines, but will cap it around $20. However, outside gifts, clothing or food will not be allowed inside the facility. 

DO: Send them photos ahead of time through Pelipost

Although you cannot bring items to give your loved one during your visit, you CAN send them photos ahead of time through Pelipost. A physical photo is a cherished item your incarcerated loved one will be able to look back on in between visits. 

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

How to Talk to an Inmate for Free

When spending time apart from a loved one, it is important to stay in contact to keep the relationship alive. Texting, phone conversations, and video chats are typically how long-distanced loved ones talk to one another. However, if incarceration is the reason you are apart, there are additional hurdles you must get over in order to communicate. Unfortunately, the options for keeping in contact are limited, and most are not free of charge. In today’s post, we highlight how you can talk to an inmate for free—and other affordable options, too. 

Visiting in Person

The only way to speak to an inmate completely free of charge is by visiting them in person at their facility. An in-person visitation is a great way to connect with your incarcerated loved one, because you can physically see one another and have a face-to-face conversation. Studies have shown that in-person visits from loved ones help an incarcerated individual experience fewer depressive episodes and may even reduce rule-breaking behavior. Becky Calderon, co-founder of Pelipost and formerly incarcerated, says that the visits from friends and family “remind you that you have a life, a purpose, and a meaning.” 

In-person visits are free of charge, however there are essential steps to take before your visit. Typically, facilities require you to be pre-approved, adhere to a strict dress code, and schedule your visit in advance. It is important to check the guidelines for the specific facility your loved one is at to make sure you follow all the rules and regulations. Once you have taken the necessary steps, check out this guide for how to talk to your incarcerated loved one when visiting. 

Visiting in Person

Other Communication Options That Won’t Break the Bank

Just a Collect Call Away

A relatively low-cost way to communicate with your incarcerated loved one is through phone calls. Incarcerated individuals usually receive up to 300 minutes of telephone calls per month, and the calls can be up to 15 minutes long each. Although calls are collect and there will be a fee, speaking on the phone will help you connect with your loved one and brighten their spirits. 

Old-School Letters

In today’s technology-driven world, handwritten letters between friends, families, and lovers are a lost form of communication. A personal note sent to someone in incarceration is a great way to stay connected and talk to them in a way you typically would not. A huge benefit to sending letters is that the incarcerated person can physically hold onto it and go look back at your words when they need to hear them most. Postage is not free and facilities have rules when it comes to letter content, but sending mail is a low cost way to stay connected with your loved one. 

A Picture’s Worth 1000 Words

A step above sending letters and speaking on the phone, while still not breaking the bank, is sending photos through the mail. A photo is a tangible item your incarcerated loved one can keep in their belongings and look at whenever they miss you and want to see your face or reminisce on memories. Pelipost is a very convenient, quick way to send photos to your incarcerated loved one at an affordable cost. To get started with sending photos, you can download the Pelipost app through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

FAQ With Becky, Formerly Incarcerated and Co-Founder of Pelipost

Incarceration can be a challenging journey for all parties involved. As the loved one of someone incarcerated, you know that it is important to keep in contact to boost their morale. But just how important is sending photos to the person on the inside? We sat down with Becky Calderon, a formerly incarcerated individual and the co-founder of Pelipost, for an inside perspective on receiving mail behind bars. 

Q&A with Becky, Co-Founder of Pelipost

Daily Encouragement

Incarceration can be a very difficult and dark period for a person, and take a toll on mental health. The incarcerated are stripped from their friends and family, living in an unfamiliar environment, and away from their normal lives and routines, which can offset everything. In fact, 23% of incarcerated people suffer from major depressive disorder, and many others suffer from a variety of other mental illnesses. Sending mail to inmates can help encourage them on a daily basis and bring them joy on a dark day. For Becky, thinking of her family pushed her to keep going, and receiving mail from them fueled her fire. “It adds gas to your tank and it feeds your energy,” she says. Although sending mail may seem insignificant to you, it can bring daily encouragement for someone on the inside. 

“You go through real lows when you feel like you don’t know if you have the will to make it through the end of the day, week, or month,” says Becky. “When you’re in there you want to focus on surviving in there, you don’t want to think about home all the time, but sometimes the mail, calls, and visits remind you that you have a life, a purpose, and a meaning.” 

A Picture’s Worth 1000 Memories

There are a multitude of ways to keep in touch with your incarcerated loved one, from visits to phone calls to sending letters. However, the most important way from the eyes of the person on the inside is by sending photos in the mail. The visits are great, but they can only happen every month or couple of months if the facility is far away. However, a photo sent in the mail is something tangible your loved one can hold and look at anytime they want to see your face. Although many facilities are allowing photos sent through email nowadays, it is better to have them printed physically. 

“When you’re feeling down and lost you can go through your box, get your pictures, have them in your hands and remember that memory,” Becky says. “You can look at it over and over and see that memory differently with endless possibilities.” 

The Difference a Photo Can Make

Your incarcerated loved one understands that life is fast on the outside, and it can be hard to find the time and resources to send them photos. But receiving the photos can make a world of difference in their attitude and motivations. “When you get pictures of your kids waiting for you to come home, or you see your mom getting older, or if you become a grandparent while you’re in there, you become determined to not get into trouble because you feel the need to come home,” Becky states. “It motivates you to do good, stay on track and take courses or anything you can do to shorten your time.”

Becky and her son, Joseph Calderon, decided to create Pelipost after experiencing the impact receiving photos while behind bars can make firsthand. Becky recalls that all of the people in her cell would gather around when one of them received photos, and they all would share in the joy together. “Part of the reason we created Pelipost was so I could show people that this is my son and this is my life,” Becky says. “The pictures validate that you are someone, that you have a family that cares, and that you created something good. The feeling can’t be matched.”

All in all, sending your incarcerated loved one tangible photos for them to hold can make a huge impact on the time they spend behind bars. Becky adds, “Sometimes you need that push: don’t give up, look at your family, don’t give up.” 


To read more about the experiences Becky has been through, check out Becky’s Story Inside Incarceration on the Pelipost blog. To download the Pelipost app go to the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

How to Stay in Touch with a Girlfriend or Boyfriend in Jail

Incarceration can be difficult on people in a relationship, for both the person on the inside and the person on the outside. Spending time apart may be hard, but it is possible to stay in contact with your girlfriend or boyfriend in jail and nurture your relationship. Keeping up with communication will help both partners feel more connected to one another, and can help the incarcerated person’s mental health, too. In fact, research shows that around half of all incarcerated people suffer from some sort of mental illness. Staying in contact with your incarcerated loved one has been proven to help with their mental health and set them up for a better life upon release. If you’re not sure how exactly to foster your relationship during your time spent apart, follow these tips on how to stay in touch with a girlfriend or boyfriend in jail. 

Visit Face-to-Face

One of the most impactful ways to stay in touch with your incarcerated boyfriend or girlfriend is by visiting them in person. A face-to-face interaction will help remind you both that the love you have for each other is real and can last through the tough times. It is important to note that when planning your visit, you must make sure you check the rules and regulations for the facility your loved one is at and follow visitation guidelines accordingly. If you are unsure what to talk about with your loved one, follow these 7 tips on what to talk about when visiting someone in jail. 

Staying in touch with an incarcerated loved one.

Hear Their Voice

During a relationship, you usually talk to your significant other over the phone on a regular basis. Even if your partner is incarcerated, this part of your relationship can be maintained in a slightly different way. Inmates are allowed to make phone calls, and you should always try to answer when they get the chance to call. Hearing your voice can turn their whole day around, and will cheer you up as well. For more details on how an inmate can make phone calls, check out this post on the Pelipost blog.  

Put It On Paper

Back in the day, letters were the main form of communication for lovers who were apart. Sending your incarcerated partner a love letter is a classic way to stay in touch and keep the spark alive. Although they won’t be able to hear your voice, a letter will give them a tangible token of your love that they will be able to hold onto and look back on when they are missing you. 

Share Photos They Will Cherish

Along with the letters, sending photos is another way to give a tangible item to your incarcerated significant other that they will cherish. Sharing images of life milestones, happy memories, or just your smile will be something your loved one can look at when they are missing you and life on the outside. Pelipost makes it easy for you to send these photos that your boyfriend or girlfriend will love. For tips on how to send pictures to inmates and what kind of photos to send, check out this blog post.

Staying in touch with a girlfriend or boyfriend in jail is possible and will be beneficial to you both in the long run, and Pelipost is here to help.

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

How Often Can an Inmate Make Calls (and Other Answers to FAQs)

Fostering a connection with your incarcerated loved one is beneficial during your time spent apart. In fact, staying in contact with an incarcerated person will help with their mental well-being and set them up for a more successful life upon release. Along with exchanging mail with an incarcerated loved one, phone calls and in-person visits are personal gestures that can be very meaningful. However, the rules and regulations around contacting your incarcerated loved one can be a little confusing. The Pelipost team has put together tips about how often an inmate can make calls, along with answers to other FAQs. 

How Often Can an Inmate Make Calls

How often can an inmate make calls?

Although it may vary from facility to facility, incarcerated people typically receive up to 300 minutes of telephone calls per month. The frequency depends on the incarcerated person’s behavior, the wait time for using the phone, and the operating hours the facility has placed for the phone. Although rare, sometimes the warden will grant extra phone minutes in addition to the 300 minutes per month depending on behavior. It is also common for facilities to grant extra minutes during the holidays to promote family bonding. 

How long can the phone calls be?

The general rule of thumb for the length of phone calls from prison is 15 minutes. Once the 15 minutes of speaking is up, the phone will disconnect automatically. The incarcerated person must wait 30 minutes before they are allowed to to make another call. Facilities tend to have a handful of telephones for a few hundred people, so wait times can be very long. Phone calls must always be made by the incarcerated person, but their loved ones on the outside should be aware of the costs they will be charged from these collect calls. 

How long does an incarcerated person have to wait before making a phone call?

The timing for incarcerated people to make phone calls depends on the facility they are at and where they are in the incarceration process. For example, if the person was just arrested, they will be allowed a phone call after the booking is done. While going through a sentence, there is a process they must undergo before making calls. In the intake and classification process, they must participate in a medical, physical, and psychological examination. This process can take anywhere from one day to a few weeks, and during this period the incarcerated person will not be allowed to make phone calls. 

How often can you visit your incarcerated loved one?

Under federal law, an incarcerated person will receive at least 4 hours of visiting time per month. Depending on the location of your loved one, they may receive more visiting hours than that. The facility may also restrict the length of each visit and the number of people that can be in the room. Before you go, make sure to check the facility’s visiting schedule and whether or not you need to set up an appointment. If you’re not sure how to approach an in-person visit with your incarcerated loved one, check out these tips on what to talk about when visiting someone in jail. 

What are some other tips for staying in contact?

Other than phone calls and in-person visits, there are other ways to stay connected to your loved one while they are incarcerated. Communication through mail is a simple and easy way to keep in contact, and it gives the incarcerated person a keepsake to hold on to. For example, sending photos through Pelipost is a great way to stay connected and give your loved one a tangible item to help them through tough times. 


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

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.

Pelipost’s Origin

Pelipost is more than just an app for sending photos to your incarcerated loved ones.  Pelipost’s Origin is a story, much like your own. We are so excited to share our story with you in our new PeliPeople series! (Start from the beginning and read Becky’s Story Inside Incarceration here).

. . .

“We are two halves that make up the whole called Pelipost.”

-Joe Calderon

Creating a Solution Together

Growing up, I was in love with entrepreneurship and creative problem solving. I spent much of my college years exploring business start-up ideas in greater depth. Once my mom was released from prison, sober, and her cancer in remission, she could not wait to take on the world. We decided to take the leap of faith and launched Pelipost together.

In those early stages, I focused on the technical side of the business, as the Founder and CEO. My mom took care of fulfilling photo orders and back-end production tasks. Her 20+ years of managerial experience and awareness of life on the inside would become one of Pelipost’s greatest assets. My mom is now our Chief Operating Officer. She is responsible for overseeing our fulfillment staff, printing operations, and leads with utmost dedication.

Reintegration Success Story

Pelipost’s Origin story is not one-sided. We are two halves that make up the whole called Pelipost. Our collective perspectives, both locked up on the inside and living life on the outside, are used daily for a greater purpose (finding value in staying connected through every season of life). Pelipost believes in the BIGGER PICTURE… remaining connected with your incarcerated loved ones and believing in their story, just as much as you believe in ours.

Pelipost's Origin - Joe & Becky Calderon
Joe & Becky in front of Pelipost Headquarters

“I truly believe that what makes us successful is that you HAVE to have experienced the need, the joy, the overall meaning of what you are doing by providing this service. I know that what makes us successful is that our heart is in it because the single most important thing I learned is that although we are incarcerated, we are still alive and want to feel included in people’s lives on the outside. And I truly believe that it is by letters and photos. So when we provide this service, I know the joy they are feeling inside. I also know the struggle they are feeling outside trying to find time to send photos and not feel bad because they did not find the time. I know because I was there and I keep that in mind always.”

– Becky Calderon

Want to read more of the our PeliPeople Series? Sign-up for the Pelipost email newsletter! You will first to be to notified once we release the next part of our story!

Don’t forget to send your incarcerated loved ones photos this holiday season! You can download the Pelipost app through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

Pelipost Gives Back

Happy Holidays, Pelipost Friends!

We’re working hard behind the scenes preparing for all of your upcoming photo orders. Be sure to upload your photos quickly so they will arrive in time for the holidays. You can download the Pelipost app through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. With that said, in the spirit of the giving season, we have some BIG NEWS! We’re excited to announce the Pelipost Gives Back efforts that we’ll be organizing for this Giving Tuesday!

Pelipost Gives Back

Pelipost will donate $500 to (3) charitable organizations and each will receive (25) Love Never Gives Up bracelets from our Love Your Inmate Day Collection. These organizations will be nominated by YOU and MUST serve families of incarcerated loved ones. In addition to our $500 donations, Pelipost will be donating a portion of sales from every photo order placed on GIVING TUESDAY (December 3).

We need your help!

We’re depending on YOU to help us find these charitable organizations. Please take a moment to NOMINATE YOUR FAVORITE CHARITY in the form below. We’ll be announcing the 3 winning charities on Giving Tuesday, December 3rd.

Fill out my online form.

Don’t forget to send your incarcerated loved ones photos this holiday season! You can download the Pelipost app through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

Becky’s Story Inside Incarceration (Pt. 1)

Pelipost is launching a new series devoted to the stories of those impacted inside and outside of incarceration called PeliPeople. In honor of this series launch we are sharing our own story first

A message from our CEO: Joseph Calderon

If there is one truth I can share with you, it is this:  there is redemption and success on the other side of doing time.  Our story is proof. Pelipost was founded in 2015 by myself, Joe Calderon, and my mom, Becky. We truly believe our success wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for our personal experiences of one, having an incarcerated loved one; and two, BEING an incarcerated loved one.  Most don’t know the story that led to the start of Pelipost and we believe now is the greatest time to share. So we will begin here with: Becky’s Story Inside Incarceration.

The Beginning of it All

“When you feel the weight of reality that each year may be your last… You fight for your life, as best as you can.”

– Becky Calderon

Imagine with me for a moment… You’re married and just gave birth to your first child. Life is good. Motherhood is magical. You have this beautiful little baby and you can’t help but dream of what life will look like with your family in 10, 20, 50 years even. THEN… your baby is one month old and you’re in the doctor’s office being given the heaviest news of your life. This is where my story begins, thankfully, this is not where my story ends. 

Becky's Story Inside Incarceration. Becky with Joe, as a baby.
Becky and Baby Joe. Becky’s Story Inside Incarceration

In February of 1989, one month after my son’s (Joseph) birth, I received a terminal cancer diagnosis. All of my hopes of one day having a big family came to an end that day. Another pregnancy would end my life, so Joe was an instant only child. The doctors didn’t expect me to live past Joe’s kindergarten year. Am I now ever so grateful they were wrong. I spent the next 12 years going through 13 surgeries, radiation, chemo, fighting for my life. I did all of this while also juggling motherhood, marriage, and work. It was not an easy journey, but it was worth it.

When you feel the weight of reality that each year may be your last… You fight for your life, as best as you can. At least, in my case, I did. I decided that my son was going to remember me no matter what. It was my ultimate purpose to give him the best childhood any kid could ask for. 

The Cancer Returns

The cancer came back during Joe’s middle school years. In my desperation to provide a more memorable experience for my family in my ‘last days’, I made some poor decisions. These choices would result in a shortcut to fund a higher quality of life. We started taking more vacations, buying gifts, trying to create as many happy memories as possible. It took about 5 years before my choices caught up to me. 

By the time everything came out, Joseph was in his first year of college. Contrary to my doctor’s prognosis, I had lived way past his kindergarten graduation at this point, and the life I had funded in those earlier, memorable, years had finally caught up to me. We lost our home during the recession. My marriage had collapsed. The body I was given, wouldn’t stop failing me. Legal troubles were overflowing and I became an alcoholic. Thank God, Joe’s dad was the best dad in the world and remained Joe’s rock through it all. 

Grave Before the Gavel

From charge to sentencing, the process took roughly three years. I just wanted to die, at that point. During those three long years, life was an intoxicated blur. In my mind, I thought I kept it all hidden and concealed from Joe, but he was too smart for that. Even still, he never turned his back on me. He couldn’t comprehend the powerless battle I was fighting with cancer, coupled with the disease of alcoholism. However, he never stopped encouraging me to fight with all I had. He knew I loved him more than life but I was losing the perseverance to stay in the game.

I kept putting off my court dates and delaying the inevitable. In reality, I was expecting to meet the grave before meeting the judge’s gavel. For some reason, my life kept ticking. What Joe and I didn’t realize, at the time, was how prison would completely save my life, instead of helping to end it…

Becky's Story Inside InCarceration-   
Becky and Joe at his High School Graduation.
Becky and Joe at his high school graduation. Becky’s story Inside Incarceration

Want to read more about Becky’s Story Inside Incarceration? Sign-up for the Pelipost email newsletter! You will first to be to notified once we release the next part of our story soon!

Don’t forget to send your incarcerated loved ones photos this holiday season! You can download the Pelipost app through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.