Wire of Hope’s Prison Pen Pal Program provides many resources about prison correspondence, including tutorials to help you navigate through the different steps of the process of writing a prisoner online.
You will find below the tutorials for the Prison Email Provider CorrLinks.
• There are several ways to set up an account and find your prison penpal on CorrLinks. It usually depends on the status of the inmate (State/Federal), but it can also depend on the State or on the facility. In some cases, especially in the federal system, inmates have to send a request to their administration in order for their penpal to be provided with an identification code. This code will be sent out to you by email and will allow you to add your prison penpal as one of your recipients on CorrLinks. Note that this email can sometimes end up in your spam folder, so make sure to check this folder when you expect an email from CorrLinks. In other cases, inmates do not have to send a request to their administration, and you will not have to wait to receive an identification code. Whether you do or not, you will have to create an account. To do this, go on CorrLinks and click on the yellow button, in the middle of the page: “Register.”
• You should end up on the “Sign up” page. Fill out the form and submit your information. Simply follow the guided steps on the screen.
• Once your account is created, you will be directed to the main menu. Note that the CorrLinks’ main page may look different from one user to another, depending on the services and options offered. Keep in mind that the services can vary, depending on the State and/or the facility and/or the security level of the inmate.
• To add your prison penpal to your account and be able to write them, click on “Account Management” in the main menu.
• Click on “Manage My Inmate List.”
• Select the corresponding correctional agency (Federal Bureau of Prisons for federal inmates). Once done, another field to complete should appear, either “Identification Code” or “Inmate #.”
• If the field is “Identification Code”, simply provide the code you were given in the email you received (for more information about this, please see the section above “Create an account on CorrLinks”).
• If the field is “Inmate #”, please note that the CorrLinks website works sometimes with 7-digit numbers for correctional ID numbers. If your prison penpal has only a 6 or 5-digit correctional ID#, you might have to add zeros in front of their ID#. For example, if the inmate’s correctional ID# is “12345”, you may have to enter “0012345” to find them on the website.
• Once you have entered the Identification Code or Inmate #, click on “Go”. You should have your prison penpal’s information appearing on the right of the page. The field in red (“Relationship”) is for you to complete. When filled out, check or uncheck the box to get an alert each time you receive an email from this inmate (when possible; some facilities do not allow inmates to reply by email), then click on “Accept.”
• The name and information about your prison penpal now appears in your “Subscribed Inmates” list. Click on “Return to Account Management Menu” and then on “Return to Main Menu.”
• If your prison penpal is incarcerated in a federal prison, the emails will be at no expense to you. However, if the inmate is incarcerated in a state prison, you may have to purchase credits. Each email costs a certain number of credits, but the price can vary from one state/facility to another. To find out how much that cost will be in your situation and with your prison penpal, click on “Mailbox” in the main menu.
• Click on “New Message.”
• Click where it says “Click here to add recipients…” and check the box corresponding to your prison penpal. The cost will automatically appear at the end of the line. In our example, the cost is of $0.30. This is the cost for one email. Keep in mind that the number of characters in an email is limited. This number depends also on the state/facility.
• Now that we know the cost of an email, let’s click on “Cancel” to go back to the main menu and purchase credits. It will ask you if you would like to cancel the message, click on “OK”, and then on “Return to Main Menu.”
• In the main menu, click on “Recharge My Account.”
• Fill out the form with your information, and choose the amount you would like to fund your account with ($10, $15 or $25). Transaction fees and sales tax may apply. Click on “Next” and follow the guided steps on the screen to proceed with your payment. Now that you have credits assigned to your account, you can finally email a prisoner!
• In the main menu, click on “Mailbox” and then on “New Message.”
• Click where it says “Click here to add recipients…”, check the box corresponding to your prison penpal and then click on “OK.” The message cost, current balance and balance after sending should automatically appear, before the subject field. Fill out the subject field (mandatory) and write your email.
• Once you are done, click on “Send.” Your message has been sent!
Allow a couple of days to one week for the mail room to process your email and forward it to your prison penpal (electronically and/or by printing out a copy). If this is your first time writing your prison penpal, don’t forget to include your mailing address in your email! Some inmates do not have the possibility to reply electronically.