There is no one perfect rule for mailing books to prisons. Be familiar with the rules for your inmate’s facility before mailing books. If you are not sure what is okay for your loved one, use what we have learned. Information and/or links to all 50 states found on our “US State Prisons’ Information” page. If your loved one is in a county lock-up, please check the county sheriff’s web page (Google it) for information on that jail’s regulations. Look for the jails or corrections section, and the information may be with the information on inmate mail or sometimes in visitation. You can also call the sheriff’s office and ask for the jail mail room.
Inmate ID numbers are required by most facilities. Please include the SID or other inmate number. our website has the links you can use find that information. The inmate number should be considered part of the last name and included in that space when providing the inmates address on a website. Address all mail with the inmate’s name as it is known by the prison, not a nickname. Most prisons will not deliver mail if the name and number do not match.
Most prisons have rules against books with certain types of content. For example: prison escape or language that might lead to prison unrest, nude pictures, or other specific sexual content (such as rape, sex with minors, S&M, incest, necrophilia, or homosexual sex), drug/bomb/weapon manufacturing, racial content, gang or criminal content. At least one state will not allow tattoo books. Some prisons have rules on what type of packing box or envelope may be used.
Some prisons will allow bookstores to send books, while other prisons require books to come directly from the publisher, and some limit to established bookstores with physical locations, but no “resellers” while others welcome Amazon as one of a handful of approved vendors.
Paperbacks are often preferred or required. Some prisons will accept hardbacks under some circumstances or for some inmates. Other prisons have no problems with hardcover books. Most prisons do not allow spiral wire or plastic binding or publications over a certain size. In many cases books must be new, other prisons are okay with used books. Most prisons limit number of books an inmate may receive or retain. Many prison systems have different rules based on an inmate’s security status.
Magazine subscriptions are mailed by the publishers and are accepted at every facility we have researched. Jail inmates can also receive magazines by subscription, however the length of time required for a subscription to begin can be a problem.
A very few states have very few rules, including allowing visitors to bring books into the unit.
It is vital that families and friends familiarize themselves with the rules for their loved one’s prison.
IMailToPrison.Com has collected information on all states. This information is available on our website.