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.

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.

The Bigger Picture: Validation

Pelipost is more than an app devoted to printing pictures for your incarcerated loved ones. We believe in the importance of family reintegration far exceeds the physical product in hand. REMAINING CONNECTED is the BIGGER PICTURE. 

In this two-part blog series we sat down with our very own co-founder, Becky Calderon, to explore the significant importance PRINTED photos had while incarcerated. 

“You feel like a failure at the time, you know your story has more to offer. You have to constantly remind yourself that prison doesn’t define my worth.”

– Becky Calderon

LIVING FOR PRISON MAIL CALL

When you’re in prison, all you have is time. You almost forget that life exists. You block it all out. You see the fences, you see the walls. You cope as best you can. With that said, there was one thing that kept us all rooted in hope for the future. MAIL CALL. We would LIVE FOR MAIL CALL. This is how we remained connected and informed with the world outside of our cell. We were all in prison for different reasons but unified by this longing to know we were more than our worst mistakes.

Letters were cherished but to receive an envelope with photos was the ultimate prize. Even just feeling the outside ridges of the envelope and knowing there was photos inside brought so much emotion… It’s hard to describe in words. I guess you could say, there was an unspoken understanding in there. We all simply longed for VALIDATION. Printed photos allowed our stories outside to come to life. We shared them, we celebrated, we mourned, we anticipated them with great excitement. It reminded us we are more than our current situation. We once had lives, passions, families, relationships, hobbies, skills, interests, stories that defined us outside of the prison walls. We are missed and treasured by others awaiting our release. 

CELEBRATING IN PRISON 

I shared a cell with 8 women, lovingly referred to as ‘cellies’. We each had different stories and reasons for their incarceration. Since we were in a maximum security facility… some stories were harder than others. One was an older woman. Her daughter had just given birth to her first grandchild. She was elated with the news and would beg for pictures of the new baby she would meet in the years to come. The new mom was so busy readjusting and overwhelmed with this new life that it took her so long to finally find the time to send her mom photos. When that day came…. We CELEBRATED alongside our cellie with great pride! It was as if the child’s arrival had just happened all over again for the first time.

MOURNING IN PRISON 

There was also a younger woman who had about 7 years remaining on her sentence. Her mother would come often and visit with her in the beginning of her sentence. She was older and unfortunately suffered a heart-related issue and wasn’t able to travel easily after that. This cellie LIVED for her mother’s visits. Once the mother’s visits stopped you can imagine how heartbreaking it was to her spirit. She would plead with her siblings… ‘send me pictures of MOM… I just want to see her face and know she’s alright’. I remember thinking ‘send this girl photos of her mother, she may not be alive when she gets out of here’. I hurt so badly for her. As a mother, I was fighting cancer inside the prison walls and understood the fear of leaving my son in an immediate way. 

VALUE YOUR INCARCERATED LOVED ONES

If you want your incarcerated loved ones to fight the staggering statistics of recidivism… INCLUDE THEM IN THEIR STORIES. VALIDATE their worth (outside of their poor choices). There was a cellie who had three children and five years remaining on her sentence. The problem was she kept getting into more and more trouble inside. I kept thinking ‘Don’t you even want to get out for your children?’ To be fair, she was never in her children’s lives to begin with… I used to pray that her family would include her in those kids lives and send her photos of them growing up. If only she communicated with them a little more often, I wonder if that wouldn’t have given her greater  purpose and hope for reconciling those relationships. 

PRINTED  PHOTOS GIVE HOPE

Sometimes customers assume we are disconnected from their stories and the struggles they face. I make sure to remind them of my own story and extend grace and understanding because incarceration is just so painful on so many levels. We care because WE KNOW HOW VITAL PHOTOS ARE in there! I want to bring that joy and validation because I felt that joy firsthand. When I finally got the picture of Joseph and that DAMN CAR (his first new car)… I was so happy! It plays such a huge part of our story. Little did we know at the time how incredible that printed photo would be to the future. Because of that photo, because of our separation, because of my worst mistakes… We now have this beautiful service impacting the lives of hundreds of thousands of families with incarcerated loved ones across the United States. 

That being said, the impact is tangible and it feels so good. We have customers that have sent over 70 orders during these past three years. To read their notes… ‘Thank you so much for your service. He’s out. We’re not going to need you anymore.’ This is why we do what we do with such pride and dedication to our customers. We see how powerfully important our service is to the future reintegration process of their loved ones.

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.

Joe’s Story Outside Incarceration (Pt. 2)

Pelipost is more than just an app for sending photos to your incarcerated loved ones. Pelipost has a story, much like your own. We are so excited to share our story with you in our new PeliPeople series! This is part one of Joe’s Story Outside Incarceration. (Read about Becky’s Story Inside Incarceration here).

. . .

“I did my best to keep her spirits up.”

-Joe Calderon

My New Reality

Shortly after my mom’s sentencing, she was transferred from the county jail to a state prison. I realized this was my new reality. A reality that many people often only see on TV shows or documentaries. The instant communication that I had enjoyed all my life with mom, was taken away. Our chats were reduced to letters and bi-weekly 20 minute phone calls. I cherished those brief phone calls. I would highlight what was happening on the outside, and learn what was happening with her on the inside. I did my best to keep her spirits up.

Visitation was the hardest challenge. When a loved one is incarcerated, no one gets a say on which facility they go to. The corrections system doesn’t care that you want your loved one to be close for visitation. It doesn’t care where your nearest family member lives. That’s exactly what happened to my mom.

My mom ended up in Chowchilla, CA, which was an 8 hour drive in the middle of nowhere. There were no major airports in the area so flying was out of the question. My only option was to drive. Visitation hours started at 9am on Sundays. In order to maximize my visitation time, I had to leave my house in San Diego, CA at 1 AM. It was hard. It was long. But I knew I had to do it. I made this drive as often as I could. I knew WITHOUT A DOUBT in my heart, my mom would have done the same for me.

Her Condition Revealed

I didn’t know my mom’s cancer had returned while she was in prison. I found out during one of our Sunday morning visits. I had my suspicions when my mom tried to persuade me not to visit her. I knew that she was only trying to protect me and keep me focused on my studies. I remember seeing my mom walk out into the visitation room, looking so frail and thin from the radiation treatment she had recently undergone. I tried my hardest to hold back my tears. Despite the physical toll the treatment took on my mom, she still had a smile on her face when she saw me.

Joe and Becky during Visitation. Joe's Story Outside Incarceration
Joe and Becky during Visitation. Joe’s Story Outside Incarceration

It was after the visit, and after seeing my mom in that frail state, that I came to face the strong possibility that my mom could die in prison. During her treatment, I felt helpless. It drove me crazy that I had no control over when I could see her, or even be there for her procedures. Knowing that she was being transported to her doctor in a prison van instead of taking her myself, was difficult to swallow. Even though I couldn’t be there physically, I never stopped supporting my mom and always kept a positive attitude when I spoke to her on the phone.

Thankfully, she beat the cancer, and was scheduled for release six months later. It was during this time that we would discover the need for a photo sharing service to stay connected with incarcerated loved ones…

Discovering a Need

During the last six months of my mom’s sentence, I graduated from college, landed a great job and bought myself my first car (Chrysler 300) as a graduation present.  During our brief phone calls, I would tell my mom about all these things going on in my life. She would always say, “Son, send me pictures of your car!” I would always respond, “I will, mom.” However, between my new job, caring for my grandparents, and life demands, I’d keep forgetting to run to the store to print and mail them out. 

One day, I remember thinking to myself ‘I have thousands of pictures on my phone. I wish there was a service that could print and send my photos for me. It would be so much easier to stay connected with my mom.’ The idea stuck with me and upon my mom’s release, we got down to business and launched a mobile app called Pelipost…

Beck and Joe. Joe's Story Outside Incarceration
Becky and Joe. Joe’s Story Outside Incarceration

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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.