Add Money to an Inmate’s Phone Account

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To inmates and their families, staying in touch by any means is crucial. Research suggests that phone contact may reduce recidivism or the tendency of an inmate to reoffend. Keeping in touch with an incarcerated family member can potentially improve their behavior while in prison and increase their chances of successfully appealing for a suspended sentence in the future.

A study also showed that phone calls, not visits, improved mother-child relationships, as perceived by incarcerated mothers. Unfortunately, staying in touch with a loved one in prison may sometimes be challenging.

On average, a 30-minute phone call from prison costs $5, as of October 22. Suppose you’re looking to maintain regular contact with an incarcerated loved one. How do you add money to an inmate’s phone account? What are the payment options available for inmate phone service?

This article discusses how to add money to an inmate’s phone account. It also explains whether inmates with a PIN debit prepaid phone account can pay for their phone calls. The write-up discusses if prisoners can call any number the correctional facility allows.

The article also covers the payment options available for inmate phone service and highlights whether correctional facilities allow inmates to receive paperback books and other items in prison. lets you access pertinent information regarding inmates and correctional facilities across the United States. This website also provides ideas for civilians who are considering volunteering or applying for jobs in correctional facilities, aiming to inspire inmates to make positive changes in their lives.

Read on to find out how you can add money to an inmate’s phone account, so your incarcerated loved one can still connect with you even behind bars. Especially for those who have hold orders.

Put Money on the Phone for Jail Calls

Here are the steps to put money on the phone for inmate phone calls:

  1. Enter the state or call NCIC (National Crime Information Center) at 800-943-2189
  2. Choose a facility, then select “Deposit Online”
  3. Select the first letter of the inmate’s last name
  4. Select inmate
  5. Choose the phone deposit option and deposit funds onto a phone number or deposit the funds onto an inmate phone account
  6. Type in the billing information

How Do You Put Money on Your Phone for Inmates to Call?

The National Crime Information Center’s (NCIC) prepaid collect account option allows you to put money on your phone for inmates to call. The charges are deducted from the account each time calls are received or made to a prepaid number.

You can set up prepaid accounts for all numbers, including cell phones. Call 800-943-2189 or visit to set up a prepaid collect account.

Inmate Phone Calls

Incarcerated individuals in the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) have access to a monitored telephone system that allows them to call approved contacts. Every month, prisoners can place up to 300 minutes of telephone calls using the telephones in the inmate housing units.

Suppose there’s a family emergency. The warden can authorize additional minutes but only on rare occasions. They often permit an additional 100 minutes to promote family contact during November and December.

If you wish to get in touch with an incarcerated loved one, try to learn more about how you can contact them. Rules may vary per state. For instance, in New York, the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision has acquired the services of Securus Technologies.

The technology communications company provides a telephone system for inmates at each state-operated facility.

The New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision has a Call Home program, allowing inmates to make phone calls to maintain contact with their family and friends. Since inmates can only make collect calls, you’ll have to pay for the call.

Generally, inmates can make phone calls daily, including holidays, between 7:00 AM and 11:00 PM. Still, the rules vary depending on the type of facility. Each facility has a specific time limit for phone calls. Once a particular call reaches that limit, the call will be terminated, preceded by a warning.

No phone calls should exceed 30 minutes. When other inmates are waiting to place calls, the facility may impose a 10-minute limit.

Phone System Information

The department of corrections (DOC) partnered with Securus Technologies and ConnectNetwork by Global Tel Link (GTL) to provide telephone services for friends and family members of inmates.

Securus Technologies serves more than 3,400 correctional facilities in the United States. Check this page and choose a state to know whether the company services the facility of your incarcerated loved one.

Enroll in Securus online for a free, all-in-one account management portal and use the company’s products and services.

Meanwhile, ConnectNetwork gives information about the specific services and products available at every facility served by GTL. ConnectNetwork’s communications services include video visitation, messaging, and phone calls. Some facilities also have tablets and offer educational and entertainment services.

Create an account to find ConnectNetwork’s complete list of products and services. ConnectNetwork offers detailed information about its products and services, including prices and fees, facility availability, special offers, and FAQs.

Inmate Purchased Phone Time

Prisoners may purchase phone time from the funds available on their commissary accounts.

A commissary account is a prepaid account that permits inmates to buy food and pay for phone calls. You can load your incarcerated loved one’s commissary account at the jail, through the internet, or via mail.

According to the Connecticut State Department of Correction website, it’s no longer necessary to be on a prisoner’s visitor list to send funds to their account.

Meanwhile, the inmate trust fund (ITF) accepts funds in four ways:

If your incarcerated loved one is in the Missouri Department of Corrections, you may deposit funds into their account through JPay.

JPay is the exclusive email and money transfer service provider for the Missouri Department of Corrections. You may also mail a cashier’s check or money order to be deposited into your incarcerated loved one’s account.

Ensure that the cashier’s check or money order is payable to the Missouri Department of Corrections, along with a deposit slip.

All inmates have access to deposit forms and can send the forms to you whenever you need them. Make sure to forward all transactions to this address:

Offender Finance Office
Missouri Department of Corrections
P.O. Box 1609
Jefferson City, MO 65102

Remember that the office processes money transactions only. Hence, you shouldn’t send cards, stamps, photographs, or personal mail to the address. Make sure to provide all information requested on the deposit slip using black or blue ink.

Deposits are usually completed within one to three business days. Your incarcerated loved ones may check their balance on a kiosk inside the facility.

For inquiries, you may call the Offender Finance Office at 573-526-6445.

Multiple Payment Options Available for Inmate Telephone Service

Global Tel Link is a telecommunications company that allows individuals to create inmate telephone accounts and purchase minutes through multiple payment solutions.

Here are the forms of payment that GTL accepts:

  • Visa, MasterCard, and Discover, including debit and check cards
  • Check
  • Western Union
  • Money order

Meanwhile, here are GTL’s calling options:

1. Collect

Inmates can call approved telephone numbers, and charges will appear on the receiver’s monthly phone bill. Prisoners can’t make collect calls using cell phones, hospital phones, office phones, or other commercial phone numbers.

2. Debit

Debit calling allows inmates to control their personal phone accounts. Inmates can purchase debit minutes through the institutional disbursement process to call family members and friends.

3. Prepaid Collect

AdvancePay is GTL’s prepaid collection option. AdvancePay allows family and friends to set up a calling account to their phone numbers without the restrictions of standard billing.

Once an inmate calls, GTL deducts charges from the call recipient’s account. Call 855-466-2832 or visit to set up an AdvancePay account today.

PIN Debit

Your incarcerated loved ones can pay for their phone calls when they have PIN debit prepaid phone accounts. Inmates can also call any phone number allowed by their facility.

Several facilities permit family members and friends to deposit directly into their incarcerated loved one’s PIN debit account. Prisoners can also fund their phone accounts from their trust accounts.


Here are the specific features of PIN debit:

  • Enables inmates to reach their friends and family members who can’t pay for calls
  • Limits use of inmates’ funds for phone calls
  • Offers multiple convenient ways for family members and friends to make deposits

What It Costs

Deposit amounts and fees vary depending on correctional facilities. Individuals can find the deposit fees within the ConnectNetwork account.

Sending Mail to Inmates in the U.S.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons encourages inmates to maintain relationships with their families, friends, and other community members through writing.

Written correspondence is classified into two categories:

1. General Correspondence

General correspondence refers to traditional mail received or sent through the U.S. Postal Service. The warden must give prior approval for an inmate to receive or send a package.

2. Special Mail

Legal mail is considered special mail. Special incoming mail can only be opened in the presence of the inmate. Officers inspect all mail for contraband regardless of the mail type.

How to Send Books and Magazines to U.S. Inmates

An inmate confined in medium– and high-security prisons and administrative institutions may receive softcover publications only from the publisher, bookstore, or book club. Examples of softcover publications include newspapers, paperback books, magazines, and clippings.

Meanwhile, prisoners at minimum-security prisons and low-security institutions may receive softcover publications, other than newspapers, from any source.

Amazon makes deliveries to prisons. Still, the company recommends contacting the correctional facility first about its policies regarding accepting deliveries.

Amazon can’t include any special instructions or labels on the package. The label on the outside of the parcel should only contain the following:

  • The destination address
  • The company name (Amazon)
  • The return address

Meanwhile, the collection address appears on the order invoice.

Remember that you can’t send gifts anonymously to prisoners. The warden may also reject your package if the publication’s content is detrimental to the institution’s good order, security, or discipline.

Here are some examples of prohibited content:

  • Depicts procedures for creating weapons, bombs, ammunition, or incendiary devices
  • Describes methods of escape from correctional facilities, including drawings and blueprints of BOP institutions
  • Provides instructions on how to brew an alcoholic beverage or manufacture drugs
  • Includes information written in code
  • Encourages activities leading to the use of group disruption or physical violence
  • Instructs the commission of criminal activity
  • Includes sexually explicit materials that may pose a threat to the security and good order of the facility

Sending Money to U.S. Inmates

The three funding methods below apply to prisoners housed in a BOP facility. You can use any of them to deposit funds into an inmate’s commissary accounts.

1. MoneyGram

MoneyGram services state, country, and federal correctional facilities to keep you in touch with your incarcerated loved one.

Below are the steps to fund an inmate’s commissary account using MoneyGram:

  • Go to MoneyGrams’ pay bills page and enter the inmate’s facility into the search field
  • Pay in cash at an agent location or pay with a debit or credit card online

2. Western Union

Western Union’s service is available 24/7. The company also offers four convenient ways to send money into an inmate’s account:

Transferring Money With the Western Union Mobile App

  • Download the app on the Apple Store or Google Play Store
  • Follow the steps to register a personal profile with your email address
  • Select “Send Money to an Inmate”
  • Enter the inmate’s name, account number, and correctional facility
  • Pay for your money transfer using a credit or debit card

Sending Money to an Inmate Online 

  • Log in or register an account. Click “Pay Inmate” to start your transfer
  • Enter the inmate’s name, account number, and correctional facility
  • Pay with your credit or debit card
  • Western Union will send a confirmation email with the tracking number of your transaction

Sending Money to an Inmate From a Western Union Location

  • Search for the nearest Western Union agent location
  • Go to the counter and provide the agent with the inmate’s name, account number, and correctional facility
  • Pay with a U.S. bank-issued debit card or cash
  • Western Union will send a confirmation email with the tracking number of your transaction

Sending Money to an Inmate by Phone

  • Call 1-800-225-5227 or 1-800-CALL-CASH
  • Follow the prompts and give the requested information
  • Save your tracking number as proof of payment

3. United States Postal Service (USPS)

Use USPS to send inmate funds through mail. Follow these steps:

  • Wait until a prisoner has arrived at a BOP facility.
  • Obtain a money order and include the inmate’s full committed name and eight-digit register number. Nongovernment checks and nonpostal money orders will be put on a 15-day hold.
    Note: Personal checks, cash, and additional items are not allowed
  • Send the money order to the facility’s central processing location.


  1. Research roundup: The positive impacts of family contact for incarcerated people and their families
  2. The differential effects of prison contact on parent–child relationship quality and child behavioral changes
  3. Incarcerated people pay about 5 dollars for a 30-minute phone call. A new bill wants to change that
  4. Inmate Calling
  5. Inmate Telephones
  6. Telephone Calls
  7. Vendor Phone Services
  9. About ConnectNetwork
  10. Phone Calls
  11. Load a Commissary Account
  12. Inmate Account
  13. Money Transfer
  14. IN DOC Inmate Telephone Service
  15. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR)
  16. Telephone Calls with Prisoners – The Complete Guide
  17. PIN Debit
  18. Stay in touch
  19. Correspondence
  20. What’s the Difference Between General Mail and Legal Mail in Prison?
  21. Incoming Publications
  22. Shipping to Prisons
  23. Fund an inmate’s commissary or calling account
  24. Send money to an inmate

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