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Frequently Asked Questions

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 1. Is Meet-An-Inmate.com a dating site? The definition of a pen pal is a person with whom one keeps up an exchange of letters via snail mail*, usually with someone so far away that a personal meeting is unlikely.  So by definition Meet-An-Inmate.com is not a dating site. Sometimes people do actually meet and consider a relationship but  that is not the purpose of the site.

*Snail mail simply means you correspond through handwritten letters that require stamps and are delivered by the postal service. With letter writing  the whole thing is centered around building up a relationship to another person one on one. Social media (forums) are more about transactional relationships. A transactional relationship is a relationship where both, or all, parties are in it for themselves. So being a pen pal with someone is somewhat intimate.

2. Can inmates receive phone calls or make phone calls? In many institutions they are allowed to make long distance phone calls. They are collect and are more expensive than regular collect calls. The reason for this is the prison makes a big profit on the calls. They are also usually limited in length to around ten or fifteen minutes. You should be cautious in giving out your phone number as it can become expensive.

3. Can I e-mail a prisoner? The answer has always been no but things are starting to change rapidly. Many prisons have allowed pay for use email services into the prison. The largest is Jpay.com. To see if a certain prisoner can use the service go to http://www.jpay.com and enter the inmates information. Using Jpay.com can be a little confusing. In Texas for example the inmates can receive an email but they must respond via postal mail. For this reason you must include your postal mailing address so they can respond. Another state Washington they can both received and send emails via jpay.com.

Many federal prisons use the pay for use service accesscorrections.com. They invite you on their list and you must accept them before they can email you. It is free for you but the inmate pays a fee.

There are other services emerging. So my suggestion is to write the first letter via postal mail and ask the inmate if they have access to email..

4. How often are ads updated? Usually within one to five days of receiving a prisoner's ad.

5. What is the number next to the prisoner's name? This is the Department of Corrections number. You must include this next to the prisoner's name when writing them or the letter will not be delivered.

6. Can prisoners receive gifts, stamps, etc.? Usually not but the rules vary from prison to prison. On your first letter do not send anything other than your letter and possibly a photo of yourself. Ask the inmate you are corresponding with for rules of her/his specific institution. Polaroid photos are not allowed.

7. Do you have any suggestions for writing prisoners? Be honest with them. You only have one chance to make a first impression. Most of these prison inmates are in need of friends and contact outside of prison. Mail is a very positive experience for them. Just be yourself. Many of these inmates will not respond if you do not show them some respect or if you send sexually explicit letters.

8. Can I write an inmate if I live outside of the United States?  Yes - You may want to mention to the inmate that it will cost them extra postage to reply. As of year 2014 it is $1.15 for most countries for a once ounce letter .  It is possible but rare that some institutions may have their own policy and not allow it. 

9. Do you have a disclaimer posted on Meet-An-Inmate? Yes, we do as we are dealing with convicted felons. The disclaimer is on the home page and states:

We (meet-an-inmate.com) accept no responsibility for the accuracy of any content found within these pages. The appropriate safeguards should be used in communicating with any person(s) that you may meet through this service. By using this service, you agree to not hold us responsible for any costs, liabilities, attorney's fee or damages that you may incur. The ads placed on my service are written by the inmates and we are only the means by which their ads are published. To use this service you must be at least 18 years of age.

10. Can I request an inmate be removed from your site or make changes to her/his ad? No. All changes made to an ad must come directly from the prisoner who placed the ad. They need to put their request in writing and mail it to our office. We do this to protect the privacy of their ad and make sure no one changes it when they do not so desire it. However, if you are the person who paid for his/her ad then I may make an exception.

11. Can I pay for a prisoner's ad? Yes - you can submit and pay for an ad.  You can also request an application and have us mail it to you or directly to an inmate.  We can also send you an application as a file attachment via email.  Please go to http://www.meet-an-inmate.com/application.htm for instructions.

12. How many prisoners can I write? There is no limit! Pick as many as you can be a good pen pal to. The only requirement is you have to be 18 or older. I recommend that you write several to increase your chances of success in finding someone you enjoy writing.

13. Can I request an application? Yes, you can find the information at:
http://www.meet-an-inmate.com/application.htm

14. How did Meet-An-Inmate.Com start? In 1998 I decided to start a web site dedicated to getting mail for prisoners. My daughter saw an ad in the personals section of a local advertiser under the classification meet-a-mate, which gave us the idea for the name meet-an-inmate.com.

15. Is it possible at all, to be informed of the crime in which the person we contacted has committed? There are several states that give out this information free on their websites. You can go to http://www.meet-an-inmate.com/locator/index.html to start your search.

16. Do you recommend looking for a relationship through your service?
No, I do not as the odds of everything working out are slim. There are just too many obstacles. I recommend the site for a friend/pen pal basis. It can be a lot of fun writing an inmate. I recommend not to send money to inmates. However, if you do, only send small amounts less than fifty dollars. Usually they can make purchases in the prison store on items such as shampoo, shoes, books, magazines, writing paper, etc. If an inmate asks for large amounts of money you should always suspect fraud and not be foolish. These men and women are inmates and are usually in prison for good reason. This is meet-an-inmate.com, not meet-a-girl-scout.com! Read question number twenty for information on possible scams.

17. Do I have to put my return address on the envelope? Yes, if you don't they will not be able to write you back. 

18. Can I use a post office box as my return address?  Yes

19. Can inmates write to inmates? No, offender-to-offender correspondence is not allowed.

20. What if I'm not 18- Can I still write a prisoner or use your service? No. You must be at least 18 years of age. It is not wise for someone under 18 to write a prisoner nor is it wise for a prisoner to write someone under 18.

21. Do I have to be worried about scams when writing inmates? Caution must always be used when dealing with inmates.

Here are some of the problems we have encountered:

FAKE PICTURES.

OLD PICTURES. It is common that they cannot send us a recent photo. We do not remove them from the site for this reason if the photo is of them.

UNDERSTATING THEIR AGE.

SHORTENING HIS/HER RELEASE DATE. This can be very complicated because they may be stating the expected release date after earning gain time or they may be stating an optimistic parole date. If a lady says she gets out in two years and she is in for life we obviously will remove them, but it is not always that simple.

LYING TO GET MONEY. They sometimes outright lie to get money sent to them. The best advice is not to send money or only very small amounts for stamps, stationary, or small luxuries such as shampoo, deodorant, shoes, etc.

22. What is the mailing address for Meet-An-Inmate.Com?

Meet-An-Inmate.com
Arlen Bischke
P.O. Box 1342
Pendleton, Oregon 97801

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