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How to find a friend who's in prison and receive calls from them

If you have a friend in the prison or jail system, you likely understand how many barriers are in place that prevents inmates from communicating with the outside world.


woman sitting in the garden making a phone call

If you have a friend in the prison or jail system, you likely understand how many barriers are in place that prevents inmates from communicating with the outside world. Although speaking with your friend requires a few hurdles to overcome, it isn’t impossible to interact with them. With a bit of research, you can locate your friends' details and interact with them consistently.

Finding a Friend's Details

When a person is sent to prison or jail, they are given a number. It’s necessary for you to know what this number is so you can reliably receive calls from them or send books, money, and letters without the fear of them being thrown out.

Example: Texas (Brazoria County Jail Division)

To receive an incoming call from an inmate or mail a letter to them, you must know their TDCJ Number (Texas Department of Criminal Justice Number), Name, Facility/Unit Name, and the full address for the prison. If you’re missing the necessary information required for the letter, this webpage can help you locate an inmate and their details.

When an Inmate is Allowed to Call

In the United States, an inmate has a short window where they are able to call and speak with their friends or family members. Inmates won’t be able to make calls until the morning count is cleared, but if a problem occurs at the facility, they may need to wait longer. During a lock-down situation, most holidays and evenings, an inmate won’t be able to call under any circumstance.

If you’re waiting for an inmate to call after being arrested, they can call after the booking process is completed. After sentencing, an inmate may have to wait several hours or days before making a call. They also won’t be able to receive mail or have visitors.

Can an Inmate Take Incoming Calls?

An inmate cannot take incoming calls under any circumstance. If you miss a call from an inmate, you’ll have to wait until they call you back.

Can Cellphones Take Incoming Calls?

Unless you deposit funds into a friend's account, you’ll likely have to use a landline to connect with an inmate. To accept an incoming collect call, you’ll need to select that you’ll pay for the call, and that option is only available on a landline. There are apps like Prison Connect that will allow you to speak with an inmate on a cellphone.

How to Receive Calls From an Inmate

You’ll have to be on the inmates' approved telephone list to receive phone calls. If your friend forgets your phone number, they can add it to their list at any time. To ensure they receive your contact details, including your phone number in a letter that you send to an inmate or register your digits with the Department of Corrections.

  • To ensure a call isn’t dropped during the collect call, turn off call waiting.
  • Don’t forward the call to another phone unless you’re using the correct software.
  • Call your phone provider ahead of time, so collect calls aren’t blocked.

Once an inmate adds you to the phone list, there will be a waiting period in which they can’t make calls to your number. In that time, research rates for the jail your friend is staying at.

How do I Accept a Call?

When you pick up the phone, you’ll hear an automated voice message stating you’re receiving a phone call from [name] at [facility]. If you want to accept the charges, press the button the automated message asks to press.

Are my Phone Calls Timed?

All phone calls are timed, so it’s crucial to write out what you want to discuss with the inmate before they make a call. A recording will cut you off once a few minutes are remaining on your call. After the minute is up, you’ll disconnect from the inmate.

Are my Calls Recorded?

All calls are recorded, but most prison staff won’t review the call unless they expect criminal activity. Keep personal details to a minimum.


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