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How to Send Money to a Prisoner – A Step-by-Step Guide

Sending money to an incarcerated loved one allows them to purchase necessities and stay connected while in prison. However, the process is regulated with specific procedures to follow. This guide will explain the common options for depositing funds into an inmate’s account.

Understand Account Basics

Most prisoners are provided an institutional account to manage money while incarcerated. Friends and family can deposit funds which inmates can then access in limited ways.

Here are some account specifics to know:

  • Accounts are tracked by inmate name and ID number
  • Deposits are allowed from approved sources only
  • Spending is restricted to commissary, phone calls, emails, etc.
  • Extra funds may be taken upon release as “gate money”
  • Unused money is returned to the inmate upon discharge

The prison will provide instructions on setting up deposits and your responsibilities when sending money. Be sure to follow the policies.

Send Money Orders by Mail

The most basic way to send money is to mail a money order made out to the inmate’s name directly to the facility.

To send funds by money order:

  • Obtain an eligible money order typically from USPS or Western Union. Get the kind that can be cashed or deposited without a bank.
  • Make it payable to the inmate’s full legal name and inmate ID number.
  • Address the envelope to the facility’s inmate finance office or other deposit designee.
  • Include a deposit slip if provided by the institution. Write the inmate name and ID on it.
  • Mail the money order and deposit slip via postal mail. Keep the tracking number and receipt.
  • Funds may take 7-10 days to appear in the account once received and processed.
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This method works for most prisons, although maximum amounts and other rules vary. Check with the specific facility first.

Utilize Electronic Deposit Services

Many correctional systems now offer electronic deposit options as a faster alternative to physical money orders.

Electronic services allow you to quickly transfer money from your bank account or credit/debit card directly into an inmate’s account.

Popular prison financial services include:

JPayElectronic payments, messaging, and release cards for prisons nationwide.
Access CorrectionsDeposits, emails, and voicemails for inmates across multiple states.
TouchpayInmate payment processing online or at lobby kiosks.
MoneyGramQuick transfers to prisoner accounts.
Getting OutRelease card and re-entry financial services.

Look up what specific providers and deposit methods are approved by the prison. Transfers usually post to accounts within hours.

Walk-In Cash Deposits

Some jails and prisons allow for in-person cash deposits made at the lobby or front desk.

Requirements if making walk-in cash deposits:

  • Call ahead to confirm cash acceptance and daily limits. Often under $300 total per day.
  • Bring government ID to present to staff.
  • Provide inmate name and ID number to ensure correct account posting.
  • Get a receipt for all transactions and record date/time deposited.
  • Cash typically available in account within 24 hours.

Though convenient, always call to verify policies as cash rules can be strict. And not all locations offer on-site deposits.

Transfer Through Your Bank

A few correctional systems have partnered directly with banks to allow you to transfer or wire money from your personal bank account into an inmate’s.

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For example, the Federal Bureau of Prisons uses Stored Value Cards provided by commercial banks. You can register, link accounts, and schedule transfers online.

Check with the specific facility to see if bank transfer options are available. You will need to set up approved accounts and reference inmate details. Transfers post within 1-2 days typically.

Things to Know Before You Send Money

  • Do not send cash or personal checks which are not allowed. Use money orders, online services, or authorized bank transfers only.
  • Never deposit money for inmates from people you do not personally know or give your account access.
  • Be aware of any monthly or per-transfer limits imposed by the prison.
  • Keep receipts as proof of deposits in case transfers go missing or are delayed.
  • Avoid using pre-paid debit cards which are often not accepted.
  • Routing funds through multiple accounts can trigger fraud holds.
  • Disclose sources if requested to avoid issues with suspicious deposits.

Following all policies ensures the process goes smoothly and money arrives as intended.


Sending money into a prisoner’s account requires following strict protocols, but several reliable methods make it convenient and fast. Stick to approved money orders, electronic payments, cash deposits, and authorized bank transfers only.

Know the specific rules for maximum amounts, processing times, sender verification, and which options are accepted. Keep good records of all deposits and receipts. And always disclose the source of funds when asked.

While most facilities make it simple to keep inmate accounts funded, don’t take shortcuts that could risk rejections or fraud. Patience and properly handling transactions through official channels will ensure your loved one gets the resources they need.

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With the right approach, friends and family can easily support incarcerated individuals financially and help them afford essential commissary items during their sentence.


What is the most widely accepted way to send money to prisoners nationally?

Postal money orders made out to the inmate’s name and facility are accepted at most prisons and jails across the country. This is the standard option if electronic payments are not offered.

How can I figure out the specific money transfer options for an inmate?

Check the website or contact the main lobby of the correctional facility. They can provide the approved deposit methods, instructions, and account info you will need. Policies vary by institution.

Are there limits on how much money can be deposited monthly?

Many facilities impose caps on monthly receipts ranging from $300-$500 in total deposits. Limits help prevent abuse. Single transaction limits also often apply, like $50-$300 maximum per money order.

Can credit/debit cards be used for inmate deposits?

Sometimes, if the prison offers electronic deposit services through providers like Access Corrections or JPay. There may be fees per transaction and card limits. Contact the provider for details.

Is there any way for deposits to be made instantly?

Walk-in cash deposits will be fastest if accepted, crediting accounts within 24 hours in most cases. But security reviews and mail time make most options at least 1-3 days for money to post.

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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