Send and Receive Email in Prison
Inmates can easily send and receive emails. For family and friends it can be confusing and inconvenient.
Inmates have access to the Trulinks computer system. It has many features like an electronic. Law library, the ability to check commissary account and telephone balances, and send money. The most popular feature is email.
It costs five cents per minute for inmates to compose, and read emails. This does not seem like much but it adds up quick. Some inmates spend well over $100.00 a month. As with most BOP activities, expect a line.
When you enter an email address into the computer they will be sent an email asking if they wish to communicate with you. Some email filters will redirect this message to the spam folder, so you may have to call to let them know you sent the request and tell them how to enroll. It may seem odd to call someone to tell them know you emailed them, but the BOP has earned the title Backwards On Purpose.
The message will contain instructions on how to sign up for an account on another website. This website is free for Federal Prison Communication. State Prisons charge families for this service.
The email will include a code number. When they originally sign up they must include this code or they will be asked for a credit card. Once again, this service is free for communication with Federal Inmates but they need to enter the provided code number.
To send or reply to emails to you they must go through this website. They cannot use the email program on their computer or phone test message. This creates a great deal of confusion.
After they have signed up you can begin sending and receiving emails with them. When you send an email the website will email them they have a message. Responding to this email is futile, they must sign into the website to send or reply to messages.
Trulinks only sends or receives emails every 30 minutes or each hour. Unlike regular email that can be received almost immediately. This means sometimes there can be 1-2 from the time and email is sent until there is a reply.
As hobbled and cobbled as the email system is, it is far better than nothing. Even the most computer illiterate inmate will check for emails daily (or hourly) like it is Christmas morning.
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