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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is 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 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 is the prison makes a 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? Many prisons have access to prison approved email services (electronic messaging) such as and many others. These services are usually not free. So my suggestion is to write the first letter via postal mail and ask the inmate if they have access to email (electronic messaging). Many will list on their ad that they do have access to these services.

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. It is a very bad idea to send inmates money.

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. Do not send prisoners money. If you think throwing money into the wind is a good idea then sending money to inmates is less of a good idea.

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 2023 it is $1.50 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 ( 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. We highly advise not to send inmates money.

10. Can I request an inmate be removed from your site or make changes to her/his ad? Only the inmate can request that their ad be removed. This must be in writing and postmarked from the prison. The person that paid for the ad can make changes to the ad. There may be a fee. Anyone can advise us of an address change or obvious error on the page if we can verify it.

11. Can I pay for a prisoner's ad? Yes - you can submit and pay for an ad. Please go to for instructions.

12. Can I request an application? Yes, you can email us to request that we send the inmate an application at

13. 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.

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

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 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, not! Read question number twenty-one 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. Also, believe it or not there are some states that take the envelope and only give the inmate the letter. So to be safe put your return address on the letter itself also.

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 you offer a refund? No. Once we go to the expense of building the webpage there will be no refunds.

22. Do you accept applications from convicted sex offenders? Yes. We have decided starting in 2023 to accept all applications regarless of crime. However, we reserve the right to decline an application if we see fit.

23. Does the same person/company own Yes

24. 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:


· 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.


· 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.

25. How much does it cost to list an inmate?

Standard Featured
$40.00 for 12 months $70.00 for 12 months
To order a webpage for an inmate click here

26. What is the difference between a standard ad and a featured ad? Featured ads are designed to get more traffic to the ad. There is an extra page called featured. Only featured ads are on there. Also, on every age group page the featured ads are always listed above the standard ads designed of course to get more traffic than a standard ad.

27.  Will I be notified before the ad expires to renew or do I have to make a whole new ad? We do not send out notices to renew. It is best to renew before the expiration. If you wait until it is expired the ad may already be deleted from our files and you would have to place a new ad. You can renew the ad at .  You can get to that link by going to the home page and click on list an inmate on the top of the page.

28. What is the mailing address for Meet-An-Inmate.Com?
Arlen Bischke
P.O. Box 845
Winchester, Oregon 97495

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