How To Call An Inmate: Typical Pitfalls and Useful Tips

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How To Call An Inmate: Typical Pitfalls and Useful Tips

If you have someone in jail or prison you know how many communication barriers appears at once. Even the simplest thing – call your friend or family member– is now impossible. You can never call your inmate, so they can only make outgoing calls to you.


PrisonConnect - cheap inmate calls

When the Inmate will be Allowed to Call

It depends on where they are now. For example, if the person was just arrested they will be able to call right after the end of the booking process. If they have been sentenced there is a step-by-step process for them to go through.

Firstly, staff will spend some time to classify the inmate through medical, physical, and psychological examination during intake. It can take a day or several weeks, and during this period inmates can’t have visitors, make phone calls or receive mail.

Each facility has a special time when inmates are allowed to make calls. It differs depending on the facility. Normally, inmates can’t start making calls before the morning roundup and count. If any problems appear, you can expect delays in phones’ availability for use. Also, inmates can’t use telephones during a lock-down.

Inmates can only make outgoing calls and under no circumstances are incoming calls allowed.  The normal method of calling is via “collect call” (cell phones cannot receive collect calls).  However, you can receive calls on your cell phones via PrisonConnect call redirection.

How to Receive Phone Calls from an Inmate

You should be on an inmate’s approved telephone list. Normally, the inmate will submit a list of phone numbers after he firstly admitted. Sometimes inmates forgot your number and won’t be able to add it to the list. Yes, it happens. Don’t be upset! It is possible to add your number anytime. It is a good idea to include your number in the letter you write to them. In some states, like 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 the receiving of the call. Here are some reasons for that:

  • Your cell phone was added. Cell phones cannot receive collect calls. You should establish pre-paid account in Securus or any other phone provider and use PrisonConnect local number. PrisonConnect number transfers the call to your cell phone.
  • Sometimes your telephone service providers can block collect calls. In this case, you should speak with their support.
  • It may occur that the call dropped in the middle of the conversation. There are two main reasons for this: call waiting feature is enabled on your phone and three-way calling. Switch off your call waiting feature and avoid three-way calling.
  • You’ve tried to use Google Voice number.

Always keep in mind that your calls are monitored and recorded! Never discuss any crimes or things that can lead to additional charges.

Step-by-step guide:

1) Be included on inmate’s contact list

If you want to have a contact with the inmate, firstly the inmate should list you to his/her approved contact list.

2) Apply to have your phone number approved for calls

You can apply online, or you can print it and mail. However, it is not a rare thing when mail-room staff loses the application and claiming they never got it in the first place.

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

You will have to wait as long as it is mentioned on the site. If nothing happens and you still haven’t received a call from the inmate, call the prison and politely ask the officer for information about your application status.

Now you can start investigating provider’s prices. You can do this while waiting for approval of the application. Knowing their prices allow you to understand how often your inmate can call you and how much money you’ll spend each month. The bad thing is that these providers (Securus, Global Tel Link or IC Solutions) tend to charge you with the maximum rate. Now it is $0.25/minute, but due to new FCC changes the price can increase significantly. Luckily, PrisonConnect allows you to use the number that is local to the facility. This way you’ll be charged for only $0.06/minute.

4) Accept first inmate’s call

Once you’ll get a call from the strange number. Answer it and you’ll hear an automated voice that will say that the inmate is calling from the facility. Something like:

 “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 that feel like a few seconds. Plus, your call is monitored/recorded. And then…

“You have one minute remaining,” the automated voice chimes carelessly into your conversation. One minute later, you will be cut off. No ifs, ands, or buts. You will be cut off, and it will likely be mid-sentence.

Reducing bills for inmate calls

Major prison phone companies like Securus, Global Tel Link or IC Solutions incur enormous fees and prices, but, luckily, you can reduce the cost.

The first thing you can do is to spend less time on the phone and prepare a list of things you want to discuss with your loved one. Having a list of items to talk about will reduce any wasted time during your conversations.

If this option is not for you and you want to talk more with your loved one then you can reduce the cost of call by having a number local to the facility. This is how PrisonConnect works. You can read more about how it works and how much you can save here –

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Cost-saving Inmate Number - PRISON CONNECT local number

    15 Comments so far

    Connie HooperPosted on9:41 am - Mar 11, 2017

    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?


      PrisonConnectPosted on3:56 pm - Mar 13, 2017

      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!

    LanitaPosted on2:56 pm - Apr 15, 2017

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


      PrisonConnectPosted on10:40 am - Apr 17, 2017

      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!

    angelaPosted on8:49 pm - Apr 15, 2017

    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


      PrisonConnectPosted on10:41 am - Apr 17, 2017

      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!

    DorothyPosted on11:40 pm - May 20, 2017

    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


      PrisonConnectPosted on8:27 am - May 21, 2017

      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!

    Nancy McCannPosted on10:34 pm - Jun 6, 2017

    There was no issues with your service

    CynthiaPosted on8:28 pm - Jul 11, 2017

    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?

    Gidget Blasio MallardiPosted on9:35 am - Sep 18, 2017

    How doi check the balance on money I put in


      PrisonConnectPosted on9:59 am - Oct 2, 2017

      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

    Dawn LittlePosted on12:41 am - Nov 26, 2017

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


      PrisonConnectPosted on5:46 am - Dec 4, 2017

      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.

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