How To Call an Inmate in the US

Call an Inmate

Getting in touch with a loved one who is incarcerated can be challenging. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the process of calling an inmate in the United States, covering everything from setting up an account to understanding the restrictions and policies that apply. By the end of this article, you’ll be well-versed in the intricacies of calling an inmate and will know how to maintain contact with your loved one effectively and efficiently.

Understanding the Importance of Calling an Inmate

Phone calls are an essential way for inmates to maintain connections with family and friends, providing emotional support and helping them feel less isolated. Research has shown that regular communication with loved ones can improve an inmate’s mental health and increase their chances of successful reintegration into society upon release.

Collect Calls and Prepaid Calling Services

There are two primary ways to call an inmate: collect calls and prepaid calling services. Collect calls allow the inmate to call your phone number, and you’ll be charged for the call. Prepaid calling services, on the other hand, require you to set up an account and fund it in advance. This method is more cost-effective and ensures that you don’t have any unexpected charges on your phone bill. For a list of approved service providers, you can visit the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) website.

Setting Up an Account

The first step in calling an inmate is setting up an account with a phone service provider that is approved by the specific correctional facility. These providers have contracts with the facilities to facilitate phone calls to and from inmates. There are several providers to choose from, such as Global Tel Link (GTL), Securus Technologies, and IC Solutions.

Steps to Set Up an Account

  1. Choose a service provider: Research the approved providers for the facility where your loved one is incarcerated. It’s essential to choose a provider with competitive rates and positive customer reviews.
  2. Create an account: Visit the service provider’s website and sign up for a new account. You’ll need to provide your personal information, including your name, phone number, and billing address.
  3. Fund your account: Once your account is set up, you’ll need to add funds to it. Most service providers accept credit cards, debit cards, and electronic transfers as payment methods.
  4. Register the inmate’s information: Add the inmate’s name, inmate ID number, and facility location to your account. This information is necessary for the provider to connect your calls with the inmate.

Understanding Facility Rules and Regulations

Each correctional facility has its own rules and regulations regarding inmate phone calls. It’s crucial to familiarize yourself with these policies to ensure your calls are not disconnected or blocked.

Common Rules and Regulations

  1. Call duration: Most facilities limit the length of each call to 15-30 minutes. After the allotted time, the call will be disconnected automatically.
  2. Call monitoring and recording: Inmate phone calls are monitored and recorded for security purposes. Be cautious about sharing personal or sensitive information.
  3. Number of allowed calls: Some facilities limit the number of calls an inmate can make per day or week. Be sure to review these restrictions to avoid disappointment. 4. Call blocking: If you suspect that your phone number has been blocked by the facility, contact the service provider to resolve the issue. This may occur if you have exceeded the call limit or if there is a problem with your account.
  4. Approved phone numbers: In some cases, inmates are only allowed to call a pre-approved list of phone numbers. Ensure your number is on that list before attempting to call.

Tips for a Smooth Call

Now that you understand the process of calling an inmate and the associated rules and regulations, it’s essential to follow some best practices to ensure a smooth and enjoyable call.

Plan Your Conversation

Since call duration is limited, it’s helpful to plan your conversation beforehand. Make a list of topics you want to discuss and any important updates or news to share. This will help you make the most of your time and ensure you cover everything you want to talk about.

Speak Clearly and Maintain a Positive Tone

Remember that the call quality may not be perfect, so speak clearly and avoid shouting. Maintain a positive and supportive tone, as this can help improve the inmate’s emotional well-being.

Be Aware of Call Monitoring

As previously mentioned, inmate calls are monitored and recorded. Refrain from discussing sensitive or illegal topics to avoid potential issues.

Stay Patient and Flexible

Sometimes, technical issues or facility lockdowns may disrupt your call. Stay patient and flexible, and be prepared to reschedule your call if necessary.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to call an inmate?

The cost of calling an inmate depends on the service provider and the facility. Rates can vary significantly, so it’s essential to compare prices before setting up an account. The FCC regulates interstate (long-distance) inmate calling rates, with a cap of $0.25 per minute for collect calls and $0.21 per minute for prepaid calls.

Can I use my cell phone to receive calls from an inmate?

Yes, you can use your cell phone to receive calls from an inmate as long as your phone number is registered with the service provider and approved by the facility.

Can an inmate call me internationally?

Some service providers allow international calls, but these are typically more expensive than domestic calls. Be sure to check with the service provider and the facility for their specific policies on international calls.

How can I find out which service provider to use?

You can visit the facility’s website or contact them directly to find out which service providers they work with. Additionally, you can visit the FCC’s website for a list of approved providers.


Staying in touch with an incarcerated loved one is essential for their emotional well-being and successful reintegration into society. Understanding the process of calling an inmate and following the guidelines outlined in this guide can help you maintain a strong connection with your loved one despite the challenges of incarceration.

We hope this comprehensive guide has provided you with the information you need to call an inmate in the United States. If you have any additional questions or concerns, consider reaching out to the facility or the service provider for further assistance.