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How Much Money Can U Send To A Prisoner?

Sending money to incarcerated loved ones allows them to purchase necessities and stay connected while serving their sentence. However, prisons have strict rules about sending funds. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about sending money to someone in prison.

How Much Money Can You Send an Inmate?

Most prisons set limits on how much money inmates can receive:

  • Federal prisons allow inmates to receive unlimited funds for their commissary accounts from approved sources.
  • State prisons commonly limit how much money inmates can receive per month, such as $100 or $300.
  • Local jails often have lower limits, like $30-$50 per week.

Prisons generally do not restrict how frequently funds are deposited as long as inmates stay under their monthly or weekly limit. Sending smaller, more frequent deposits can help inmates budget Commissary funds.

What Payment Methods Can Be Used to Send Money?

While policies vary between facilities, common options for sending money to prisoners include:

Mail Money Orders or Cashier’s Checks

One of the most widely accepted options is sending a money order or cashier’s check by mail. This provides a paper trail showing the funds came from an approved source. Money orders have maximum value limits, often $1,000 or less.

Electronic Services

Many jails and prisons contract with third-party services that allow you to send funds electronically. Popular options include JPay, Access Secure Deposits, Touchpay Payment Systems, and more. These services deduct fees, so the inmate receives less than what you send.

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Deposits at the Facility

Some jails and prisons allow you to deposit money directly into an inmate’s account by visiting the facility in person. You may need to schedule an appointment and show ID. Cash is rarely accepted.

Release Cards or Debit Accounts

Inmates released from prison are often given prepaid debit cards or accounts containing their Commissary balance. You can add funds to these accounts before an inmate’s release.

Can You Send Cash to an Inmate?

Sending cash to prisoners through the mail is strictly prohibited. All funds must come through approved channels that provide a paper trail, like a money order receipt. Most jails and prisons do not accept cash deposits in person either.

If you try to mail cash, it will be confiscated. The inmate will not receive it, nor will the money be returned to you. Sending cash could even get an inmate in trouble or lead to disciplinary action.

Are There Fees for Sending Money to Inmates?

The method you use to send money typically involves some type of fee:

  • Money order fees: $1-$2 per money order
  • Cashier’s check fees: Varies depending on the bank, around $10 per check
  • Electronic services: Fees vary, around $3-$10 per transaction depending on amount sent
  • Facility deposits: No fee to the sender, but the inmate may pay a deposit fee

The fees go to the companies processing the transactions, not the correctional facility. It’s a good idea to check for any hidden fees associated with a particular payment method before using it.

Can You Send Money to an Inmate in Another State?

Each state operates its own Department of Corrections with individual rules about sending funds. So the exact processes may differ. However, most states allow you to send money orders or use electronic services to deposit funds for inmates incarcerated out-of-state.

Sending cashier’s checks across state lines tends to be more difficult and may not be allowed. Contact the facility to ask about their specific policies before attempting to send funds.

Are There Any Restricted Senders Who Can’t Send Money?

Prisons carefully regulate who can send funds to inmates to prevent fraudulent activity. Restrictions vary, but may include:

  • Other inmates or anyone else incarcerated
  • Correctional staff members
  • Underage senders without parental consent
  • Businesses without prior authorization
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Any attempt to send money from an unauthorized source will be blocked. The funds will not make it into the inmate’s account. Again, it’s best to check with the specific facility for their sender policies.

Can You Send Money to Someone in Prison Anonymously?

No, prisons require all funds to come from approved, identifiable sources. Attempting to anonymously send money to an inmate is prohibited.

When depositing by mail or electronic service, you must provide:

  • Your full name, address, date of birth
  • Inmate’s name and identification number
  • Your relationship to the inmate

If making an in-person deposit, you’ll need valid ID matching the registered sender information. Anonymously sending money could result in disciplinary action against the inmate.

Are There Limits on What Inmates Can Spend Money On?

Prisons place rules around what items and services inmates can purchase with their Commissary funds. Allowable purchases tend to include:

  • Food and drinks
  • Clothing
  • Hygiene products
  • Writing supplies
  • Postage stamps
  • Certain electronics

Inmates are prohibited from using funds on illegal or dangerous contraband inside. Spending may also be monitored to prevent abusive practices. All Commissary spending decisions are at the prison’s final discretion.

Can You Send Packages Instead of Money?

Most prisons do not allow you to mail packages directly to inmates due to security concerns. Facilities that do permit packages strictly control what items are allowed. Sending packages could violate rules and get confiscated before reaching the inmate.

Instead, add money to their Commissary account and allow them to choose approved items from the prison catalog. Check the facility’s website for details on their package policy.

Are There Times When Inmates Cannot Receive Funds?

Yes, prisons can restrict inmates from receiving money as punishment for rules violations. Common situations when prisoners may not be able to receive funds include:

  • In restrictive housing or solitary confinement
  • On commissary spending restriction due to abuse
  • Violating mail policies such as possessing unauthorized items
  • Safety concerns such as gang affiliation

The prison warden determines restrictions based on the severity of infractions. Limits are intended to be temporary but may extend for months in some cases.

Can You Send Money for Inmates to Use After Release?

Yes, some facilities allow family and friends to deposit funds that inmates can access upon release through prepaid debit cards or release accounts. Any balance left in their regular Commissary account may also be provided on release.

These funds are extremely useful for covering basic needs like food, housing, and transportation as former inmates transition back to society. Make sure to clearly designate any deposits as release funds with the correctional facility.

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Table of Notable Crimes and Convictions

Below is a table outlining details of some notable crimes that led to prison convictions, along with quotes on the decisions reached.

CrimeDetailsConviction & Quote
Securities FraudBernard Madoff orchestrated the largest Ponzi scheme in history, defrauding thousands of investors out of billions of dollars over decades.Convicted of 11 counts of fraud, money laundering, perjury, and theft. Sentenced to 150 years in prison. “I don’t ask for forgiveness…I think that would be presumptuous.” – Madoff
Tax EvasionWesley Snipes failed to file federal income tax returns for years and attempted to obtain fraudulent tax refunds.Convicted of three misdemeanor counts of willful failure to file tax returns. Sentenced to three years in prison. “I’m disappointed, but you’ve got to move on.” – Snipes
Insider TradingRaj Rajaratnam received and traded on illegal insider stock tips as a hedge fund manager, profiting over $60 million.Convicted of 14 counts of conspiracy and securities fraud. Sentenced to 11 years in prison and fined $10 million. “You will be remembered as someone who played by your own rules…” – Judge Richard Holwell
Corporate EmbezzlementRita Crundwell, comptroller of Dixon, Illinois, embezzled $54 million of public funds to fund her lavish lifestyle over 22 years.Pleaded guilty to wire fraud. Sentenced to 19 years, 7 months in federal prison. “I am truly sorry to the residents of Dixon and my family.” – Crundwell
Identity TheftHieu Minh Ngo used personal data to impersonate over 200 victims and collect millions in tax refunds.Convicted of perjury, identity theft, and conspiracy. Sentenced to 13 years in prison and ordered to pay $5.7 million in restitution. “You saw this as easy money.” – Judge Howland Clarke

Key Questions and Answers About Sending Money to Inmates

Can you send money to federal prisons?

Yes, federal prisons allow inmates to receive money from approved outside sources, with no restrictions on the frequency or dollar amounts. You can send funds via money order, electronic transfer, or facility deposit.

What happens if you try to mail cash to a prisoner?

Mailing cash to inmates is strictly prohibited. Any cash sent will be confiscated before reaching the inmate. The money will not be deposited or returned. Attempting to mail cash could potentially result in disciplinary action against the inmate.

How long do Commissary deposits take to process?

Timeframes vary by facility, but expect processing times of 1 week or longer for mail and electronic deposits. In-person facility deposits are typically processed faster within a few days. Check with each prison for their timelines and policies.

Can prisons restrict who inmates can receive money from?

Yes, prisons maintain lists of authorized and prohibited senders that inmates can receive funds from. Common prohibited sources include other inmates, businesses, and underage senders without consent. Deposits from unauthorized senders will be rejected.

What are the main fees for sending money to prisoners?

Money order fees ($1-$2 per order), cashier’s check fees (around $10 per check), and electronic service fees ($3-$10 per deposit) are the most common. No fee for in-person facility deposits. Additional fees may apply for release card accounts.


Sending money allows inmates to afford basic necessities and stay connected with loved ones while incarcerated. However, facilities prohibit practices like mailing cash and strictly regulate the process to prevent fraud.

Following the rules and using approved methods such as money orders and electronic transfers ensures funds arrive safely. Restrictions may apply during disciplinary actions but are usually temporary. Overall, understanding the ins and outs of sending money makes the process smooth for both senders and recipients.

Prison Inside Team

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Welcome to ‘Prison Inside,’ a blog dedicated to shedding light on the often hidden and misunderstood world within correctional facilities. Through firsthand accounts, personal narratives, and insightful reflections, we delve into the lives of those who find themselves behind bars, offering a unique perspective on the challenges, triumphs, and transformations that unfold within the confines of these walls.

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