If you have a friend or family member who is serving time in prison, you probably want to do anything you can to help them feel comfortable. While you won’t see them as much in-person anymore, there are still numerous things you can do to remind them how much you care about them. Many people in your position, for instance, send care packages to their loved ones in prison. However, there are some rules and stipulations you need to follow when sending your care package. But no matter how big or small it turns out, your loved one is sure to appreciate and cherish it.
How Do I Send a Care Package to an Inmate?
Learn how to successfully send a care package to your loved one in prison
First, you need to find an approved care package provider
Normally, you would be able to send your loved ones a care package directly to their address. But when it comes to sending care packages to inmates, the process is a little different. In order to send an inmate a care package, you need to find an approved provider that is associated with the facility you want to send it to. You can usually contact the jail and request an approved provider list from them. If you order a care package from a company that has not been approved, it might be undeliverable.
Because regulations on care packages vary among jurisdictions, you should contact the facility your loved one is in regarding their respective rules on sending care packages before attempting to send one yourself. For instance, most facilities only let their inmates receive one care package a quarter.
Sending the care package to the facility
Some care packages allow you to sign up for a subscription type service where your original care package selection is renewed every quarter. Other facilities also allow you to make special one-time orders instead. Once you decide what you want to include in your care package, you will need to enter the inmate’s ID number or the name of the facility where they are being held into the care package company’s website. This will ensure that the care package is sent to the correct person.
Gifts You Can Send an Inmate in Prison
Make sure the gifts you want to send are appropriate
Not sure what to send your loved one? Check out these ideas for inspiration!
Serving prison time is difficult. Cheer up your loved one and remind them that they are in their hearts with a personal message. Even short affirmation notes can brighten up their day! Out of all the items you can send them, this is probably the most special. It is a message written by you just for that person.
There are numerous ways to can keep the message elegant and creative with the right stationery paper. You don’t have to be an artist to send an artistic and meaningful message to your loved one. Everything from floral stationery to pet-themed stationery is available for your choosing.
In addition to your own personal message, you can also include messages from your inmate’s other friends and family. There are few things more joyful than being reminded of how much your loved ones care about you during one of the toughest parts of your life.
If you send a letter you need to remember to exclude any staples, paper clips, or perfume from it. All mail is inspected by prison staff. Therefore, you should make sure you don’t include anything in the letter you wouldn’t want someone else to read.
Remind your loved ones of the good times with some photographs. Ask other friends and family members to send you some recent pictures to keep your loved one up-to-date on everyone’s lives. You can also add short notes to the back of the photos detailing your memories attached to the photo for a quick trip down memory lane with your loved one.
Serving a prison sentence can feel lonely and discouraging. Something as simple as a family photo or a photo of your pets can cheer them up. These photos help your loved one feel connected to the outside world.
As you gather these photographs, make sure none of them are larger than 4”x6”. Because staff members will be seeing these photos, you will want to make sure they are appropriate. You will also need to write the inmate’s name and ID number on the back of the photo to help the mail staff sort your photos.
Is your loved one a fan of detective stories? How about soapy romance novels? Or fantasy novels filled with mystical creatures and great adventures? Consider sending them some new books and magazines to help keep them entertained.
Books and magazines also make great additions to your care package. Reading often transports us to a whole new universe full of unique people and places. Plus, it can really help your loved one pass the time quicker. Most facilities prefer that you send softcover books that come directly from the publisher, such as Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
Non-fiction books designed to help them rehabilitate and start off on the right foot after they finish serving their sentence can also be extremely helpful. Magazines are also great for helping your loved one stay up-to-date on current news, from the latest celebrity gossip to information on new movie releases.
Most prisons only offer the basic necessities for maintaining a healthy life, such as a bar of soap and a change of clothes. Some don’t even offer their prisoners comfortable tennis shoes or shampoo. While these products aren’t necessarily essential for surviving, they certainly make life much more comfortable.
Prisoners also make little money from their work details. This can make it difficult to save up enough money to buy items like a simple razer or a bar of soap.
If you can afford it, consider sending some money to your loved one along with your care package. You can even try to raise funds among your friends and family members to help them out. Even having a little extra ramen soup or a nice bottle of shampoo can make a huge difference during their time in prison and make them feel a little more comfortable.
Jail food isn’t always the most appetizing or nutritious. While it certainly gets the job done, it doesn’t hurt to include some snacks in your prison care package. Some prisons allow you to send food-approved packages once or twice a month. This can include items such as:
- Granola bars
- Mac and cheese packets
- Soft drinks
- Packages foods like instant rice
- Pastries such as honey buns
Prisons do not allow glass or metal containers in care packages, so if you decide to send any food it should be in a plastic package.
Personal Hygiene Items
Packing both entertainment options and the essentials is important for any care package, especially since prisons tend to only give the barebone necessities to their inmates. Personal hygiene items like toothpaste and deodorant are typically included in care packages for inmates. Some prisons even allow you to send shoes, underwear, or sweatpants to inmates. If you aren’t sure whether a certain item is permitted in a care package, you can always contact the prison and ask for clarification.
Help your loved one make the time go by faster with some fun games and puzzles. While you won’t be able to send them video games or any electronics, there are plenty of interesting games you can play over letters, mini-game sets, and even books containing mind-bending puzzles.
Many inmates and their loved ones play games over letters, such as tic-tac-toe or hangman. Some even start small book club discussions with each other! Don’t be afraid to get a little creative when it comes to helping your loved one fight off boredom and keep their mental energy up.
What Not to Send to an Inmate
Facilities have strict regulations on what you can and cannot send
- Letters containing staples or paper clips
- Perfume or body spray
- Drawings or letters that could be misconstrued as a secret code
- Computer games
- Tobacco or any smoking accessories
- Mobile funs
- Tablets or laptops
- Anything that can be used as a weapon
- Inappropriate photos or sexually suggestive material
If you are unsure whether a certain item is allowed in a care package, you can call the prison to ask if it is allowed or not.
Having a loved one in prison can be challenging. But showing them how much you care about them with a care package can make a huge difference and help them get through their time in prison.