How To Call An Inmate: Typical Pitfalls and Useful Tips

If you have a friend or family member in jail or prison, you know how many communication barriers are instantly created by the situation. Even the simplest thing – including calling up your friend or family member – is now impossible, because the inmate can only make outgoing calls to you.


When the Inmate will be Allowed to Call

The timing of phone calls from the inmate depends on where they are. For instance, if the person was just arrested, they will be able to call from the jail right after the booking process is done. If they have been sentenced, there is a step-by-step process for them to go through.

First, it will take some time for the staff to complete the intake and classification process. This entails a medical, physical, and psychological examination of the inmate, and a determination of where the inmate will be housed. It can take anywhere from a day to several weeks, depending on the situation at that facility. Unfortunately, during this period of time, inmates can’t have visitors, make phone calls or receive mail.

Each facility has a designated time when inmates are allowed to make calls. Normally inmates can’t make calls until the morning count has cleared. If any problems arise in the facility, or even in your inmate’s dorm, you can expect a delay in access to the phone system. Also, if there is a lock-down situation, the phones are unavailable to all inmates.

Incoming calls to inmates are not allowed under any circumstances – they are only allowed to make outgoing calls.  This method of calling is considered “collect calling” and the majority of cell phones cannot receive these types of calls.  However, through PrisonConnect, these calls can be successfully redirected to your cell phone.

How to Receive Phone Calls from an Inmate

Normally, an inmate will submit a list of phone numbers shortly after he is first admitted to a facility. You will have to be on an inmate’s approved telephone list to receive phone calls. Sometimes inmates are overwhelmed and are unable to remember important phone numbers to add them to the list. Yes, it happens, but don’t panic! It is possible for the inmate to add your number to the list at any time.

As a precaution, it’s probably a good idea to include your number in a letter to your inmate. In some states, such as Texas, there are special sites where you can register your phone number with the Department of Corrections. Unfortunately, being on the list doesn’t guarantee you’ll receive the call. Here are a few reasons that might happen:

  • Your cell phone was added to the list. Cell phones cannot typically receive collect calls. Once you establish a pre-paid account with Securus or the phone service for that facility, sign up and use a PrisonConnect local number. PrisonConnect will transfer the call to your cell phone.
  • Sometimes telephone service providers block collect calls. You can check you’re your phone company’s support to make sure your account is set up to accept collect calls.
  • You’ve tried to use a Google Voice number to forward the calls to your cell phone. See this article for information on why this won’t work!
  • Sometimes you may receive a call from the inmate, but it dropped in the middle of the conversation. The main reason this happens is because the call waiting feature is enabled on your phone, or you are attempting to make a three-way call. Switch off call waiting and avoid three-way calling.

Always keep in mind that your calls are monitored and recorded! Never discuss anything you wouldn’t want someone to overhear, especially related to any criminal behavior – this could lead to additional charges for your inmate!

Step-by-step guide:

1) Be included on inmate’s contact list

If you want to have contact with an inmate, he or she should include you on their list of approved numbers.

2) Apply to have your phone number approved for calls

You can apply online directly with the service provider (such as Securus), or you can print out an application and mail it in. Completing the process online is much more reliable, as it is not rare for the jail or prison mail-room staff to lose the application.

3) Wait for approval and set up an account with facility’s telephone provider

The site will give you an estimate as to when your account set up will be complete. If that time frame has passed and you haven’t received a call from the inmate, contact the telephone service provider and politely ask for an update on the status of your application.

While waiting for your approval, you can begin investigating the provider’s rates. Knowing their prices will allow you to estimate how often you can afford for your inmate to call you based on how much money you’ll spend each month. Unfortunately, these providers (Securus, Global Tel Link, or IC Solutions) tend to charge you the maximum rate allowable – currently this is $0.25/minute. And now, due to FCC regulation changes, the price can increase significantly. Fortunately, PrisonConnect allows you to use a number that is local to the facility, ensuring that you’ll only be charged $0.06/minute!


4) Accept inmate’s first call

When you receive the initial call from the inmate, it will be from a phone number you don’t recognize. When you answer it, you’ll hear an automated voice that lets you know it is an inmate calling you from a specific facility. The recording will be something like the following:

 “Hello, this is a prepaid call from [their name in their voice], an inmate at [facility name].. To accept charges, press [button]. To refuse charges, press [button].”

You push the button to accept and finally get to talk for a few minutes – in what will feel like only a few seconds – and your call is being monitored/recorded. And then, before you know it, another recording:

“You have one minute remaining,” the automated voice chimes abruptly into your conversation. One minute later, you will be cut off… no ifs, ands, or buts, likely in mid-sentence.

Reducing bills for inmate calls

Major correction institution phone companies like Securus, Global Tel Link and IC Solutions charge enormous fees and prices. Luckily, you can reduce your cost.

One thing you can do is plan the items you want to discuss before the call. This will reduce any wasted time during your conversation, and reduce the number of calls necessary. If this option doesn’t sound like it’s for you, because you want to talk more with your loved one and not less, reduce the cost of the calls by having a number local to the facility using PrisonConnect. You can read all about how the service works and how much you can save here –

PrisonConnect - cheap inmate calls

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20 thoughts on “How To Call An Inmate: Typical Pitfalls and Useful Tips

  1. I accepted the call and I thought that was said something about pressing 1 after the beep and I guess I didn’t press it fast enough so it repeated and it beeped and I pressed 1 and then it says that I didn’t accept and hung up….WHAT THE FUCK?? why do they make it to talk to a loved one? I have deposited money into the provider his facility uses so he can call my number I deposited money for. I don’t get why I haven’t been able to accept the calls whenever he tries calling me??? Im considering using your services but I need to find out what the problem is first…I just want to hear his voice n tell him I love him.

  2. Hi I set up and account got a call from a rep. But have not receive in text with my number.

  3. You said there are no per minute charges. Don’t u mean none from you but that there will still be a per minute change through the actual phone company or facility?

    1. Dear Kandi,

      Prison Connect allows you to speak at the lowest rate, but doesn’t replaces the provider itself. An account with a facility’s phone service provider is needed – unfortunately there is no way around it. $4,99 is only the PRICE FOR A NUMBER. You still have to deal with prison phone providers and pay your bills. Prison Connect helps you to talk longer for less.

      Try our first free month to find out how much you can save with us.

      Best wishes,
      PrisonConnect Team

  4. What is the $4.99 fee for and do i or the inmate have to pay anything for the calls that i receive

    1. Dear Hazel,

      Prison Connect offers one simple plan – only $4.99 per month. This includes special number that is local to the facility that allows you to speak with a minimum (“local”) rate.

      $4,99 is only the PRICE FOR A NUMBER. You still have to deal with prison phone providers and pay your bills. Prison Connect helps you to talk longer for less.

      There are:
      NO per minute charges
      NO activation fees
      NO connection or disconnection fees
      NO cancellation fees – you can cancel your Prison Connect account whenever you like.

    1. Hi Gidget!

      You can access all your account information through the main account dashboard page; you simply need to login using your cell phone number and one time password (the one time password sent to you via SMS.

      Explicit step-by-step instruction is here – – you should only click the link and choose “HOW TO MANAGE PRISON CONNECT ACCOUNT” tab.

      Kind regards,
      PrisonConnect Support

  5. I was recieving calls from an inmate, I answered and the automated machine answered, I pressed the number, and then it disconnects and says “you did not accept the call” why??? What do I need to do?

  6. I need to cancel my service don’t know if this is the right place inmate. Name Scott mcdonough #17999087 prison is allenwood low security correctional center po box 1000 white deer pa 17887 thank you

    1. Hello Dorothy!
      Please, contact our support on the site or dial +1 (855) 971-1121. The support will healp you to cancel your account.
      Have a nice day!

  7. yes i need help i just sit up a account on my phone for calls from my son … but my phone was now stolen i need to know if there any way to transfer it over to another phone number instead please the phone number it is currantly sit up on is 785-608-4259 would like to have it transfered to phone number 785-915-9583 thank you

    1. Hello Angela!
      We are sorry to hear about your loss. Sure, you can change the number. Please, contact our support on the site or dial +1 (855) 971-1121.
      Have a nice day!

  8. the person in jail can you tell how the call go. how much money i got to put on my cell phone

    1. Hello Lanita!
      Please, contact our support on the site or dial +1 (855) 971-1121. The support will answer all your questions and help you start using PrisonConnect to save money.
      Have a nice day!

  9. Hey. I haven’t had mins on my account since January 2017, but I need to pay on my account, is my prison connect local number still an active number, or do I have to get a new one?

    1. Hello Connie!

      Please, contact our support on the site or dial +1 (855) 971-1121. The support will answer all your questions and help you continue using PrisonConnect.

      Have a nice day!

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