How does one find out the guidelines for sending letters to inmates?
I hear people have trouble mailing things cuz no one can figure out the rules and the jails arbitrarily reject things...are there actual rules re this that are good nationally? Does one have to go institution by institution to find out HOW to write prisoners so they will get the
letters? Are there certain words to avoid? Also, can we just subscribe inmates to magazines from outside for them? Are some mags okay and not others? Where do we find this type of information? Also can we send prisoners things? Such a food or clothing or writing equipment or long distance phone calling cards?
There is no definitive source for restrictions on prisoners' mail. While all federal prisons are run by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, each institution has a level of autonomy over their mail restrictions. State, county, and local prisons and jails vary widely in their mail restrictions which are often determined by individual department of corrections commissioners or wardens depending on the state. The prisoner is the best source for finding out what can be received. Prisoner support activists recommend asking the prisoner directly via a letter before mailing any packages. Ask them exactly what they can receive and how frequently.
Books to Prisoners groups are a good reference source for learning more about sending materials to prisoners since at prisoners' requests they send thousands of book packages every year. They track mail restrictions in order to do their work. The two largest groups are Prison Book Program in Boston and Books Through Bars in Philadelphia.