Question: Guidelines for books/letters etc to prisoners

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?

As far as I can find out, eac

As far as I can find out, each institution is different. While *my* prisoner was in jail, she was able to get books and magazines directly from the publisher, but no CDs and no packages of any kind. When she was moved to prison, it took nearly 3 months for her to find out what she could and couldn't have. We finally determined that we could send packages with food, clothing, CDs, personal hygiene, small electronics, etc., but only via approved vendors, and only books from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Then California made changes to their approved packages, and *her* institution no longer approved clothing being send as part of the package and cut down on the amount of what they could get. I managed to get vitamins through to her, although they are not on the list of approved items, but they refused to let her have typing paper because she doesn't have a typewriter. She is an artist, and it was the closest thing to drawing paper I could find. Still, she was able to trade for paper on the "inside".

Now she has been moved to another prison in training for a conservation camp (firefighter). In this one, they no longer allow the peanut butter and mayonnaise she had at the previous one, but once she gets to the firecamp (4-6 wks) she will have much more available for her - clothing, food, etc. Seems silly, but there you are.

The best place to try for information is the mail room or receiving. I have spent hours dialing into the administrative number only to get busy signals. Try calling at night or on a weekend and ask for the telephone number of the mail room. Even then, it depends on who you get. I have had very helpful folks and absolute jerks.

And by the way - here in Cali

And by the way - here in California they must call collect. No 800#s, no calling cards. This is a scam that the communication companies have set up. I have seen the contracts for my local County, and 1/2 of the phone fees go to the County Jail. I am sure it is similar in the State Prisons. From Jail *my* prisoner's calls cost me $13 for 15 minutes (approx 200 miles away) and there was a limit on how many she could make (about 10 before I had to direct pay the balance). In the State Prison they are about $6.50, even though she is 300 more miles away.

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