Letter To Inmate: How To Write and Send (Samples)

A strong support system is required to assist a family member or friend who is in jail or prison. According to research, inmates who have someone at home supporting them and keeping in touch with them throughout their sentence would cope well once they were released. One way that family and friends can support an inmate is through letters. This serves as a crucial link between the prison and the outside world, letting the inmate know that despite past mistakes, there are still many people who care about and support them.

If you would like to write a letter to an inmate, the most difficult part is getting started. You may wonder how to get started. This article and the sample letter will help make this easier.

Customizable Samples

Templates for a Letter to an Inmate are useful resources that provide a structured framework for composing a letter to someone who is incarcerated. These templates typically include essential elements such as a respectful greeting, a clear introduction, the main body of the letter, and a thoughtful conclusion. They often incorporate guidelines on appropriate language and content, helping individuals communicate effectively while adhering to prison regulations. Here are some free templates for you to use.

Free Letter to Inmate 01 for Word

Printable Letter to Inmate 02 for Word

Editable Letter to Inmate 03 for Word

Free Letter to Inmate 04 for Word

Editable Letter to Inmate 05 for Word

Editable Letter to Inmate 06 for Word

    Things to Consider

    Before you write a letter to an inmate, you need to keep a few things in mind. These factors will make letter writing easier and ensure that it serves its purpose.

    Some of the things you should research before writing anything down include:

    Contact the facility

    One of the first steps is to learn the correct mailing address for the facility where the letter will be sent. Each prison or jail will have rules about how family and friends can communicate with the inmates. In some cases, the size and type of stationery will be restricted. Observe all the rules before you send the letter. If a rule is not followed, the facility will likely send the letter back or discard it.

    Check the prison’s website

    The facility where you plan to send the letter will often have a website. A quick search online will lead you directly to the website of the prison or jail, or you may end up on the website of the government entity that runs the facility.

    You can go to that website to learn more about the rules you should follow to make sure the inmate receives it. Search around to find the regulations in place concerning mail sent to inmates. Most websites will provide details about this. Make sure to follow all of them. This will expedite the process and make it easier for the inmate to get the letter.

    Related: Permission Letter to Visit Prisoner (Sample Letters)

    Contents of the Letter

    As you start writing your letter, you may be stuck on what you should write about the inmate. This does not have to be complicated; write about your activities and life and tell them how much everyone supports and misses them. Giving the inmate a chance to answer questions can also make it easier for them to have something to say back to you.

    Some ideas of what to write include:

    Ask open-ended questions

    Writing to an inmate is a good idea. This could be one of the few ways the inmate can talk about what is going on in prison or discuss how they are feeling. It may be easier to keep the conversation going between you and the inmate if you ask questions to which they can respond in a letter to you.

    Asking some of these open-ended questions will let them know you are there and willing to listen and help. Something as simple as

    •        What are you doing to keep yourself busy?
    •        How are you feeling? 

    It can be enough to show the inmate that you care about them and have an interest in their thoughts and feelings. 

    It is fine to write to the inmate about your daily life when you write this letter. They want to know how you are doing, who you see, and the general details of everyday life. However, having a loved one in jail or prison can be challenging. When they are gone for some time, you may feel uncertain about what information you should share in a letter and what may need to be excluded. 

    Even when your loved one is in jail, you should write to them the same way you would if they had just gone on a long trip and would not be back for a few weeks. Tell them about your day and what you usually do to keep yourself busy when they are not present. If both of you have children, they will enjoy hearing about school projects and some of the children’s activities. 

    Couples have to make tough decisions regardless of whether either of them is in jail or not. If you have a big decision to make, write about it in the letter, giving the inmate all the details so you can discuss the best course of action together in the following letters. Sometimes there is not enough time to wait for a letter to be returned before making a decision. When this happens, just let them know what decision you made and why. 

    Make your intentions for the inmate clear in the letter. Even if you have a committed relationship with them, their parents, or their siblings, be sure to set reasonable expectations.

    For example, you may not have the time to write every day but can promise to send a letter every week or two. This gives the inmate something to look forward to and can prevent feelings of abandonment while they are in jail. 

    Ask about the inmate’s life

    After you take some time to talk about your daily life and schedule, it is time for you to ask in your letter a bit about the life of an inmate. Find out what they are doing each day, what books they may read or what shows they watch, and anything else they may want to share with you. This gives the inmates something to talk about and allows them to know that someone is still interested in them.

    Inform them of recent state news

    Being in prison or jail can be isolating. The inmate may not hear much news when they are in the facility and may miss out on some of the daily happenings and news. It may be beneficial to include something noteworthy from the local or state news in the letter so the inmate can feel connected to the world outside the prison and stay informed. This can help the inmate feel more connected than before.

    Think of pleasant memories

    Depending on how well you know the inmate, you may have some fond memories to share. This is an excellent opportunity to do so, especially if it is the first letter you write or you have not been able to write in some time. Offer words of comfort and encouragement

    It would be best if you tried to write some words of comfort or encouragement to the inmate. However, you do not have to make the inmate’s letter overly sentimental or uncomfortable to do so. These few words can be very meaningful to those in such unfortunate circumstances and let them know they are not forgotten.

    Describe memorable events that took place recently

    If any significant events have occurred since the inmate went to jail or prison, tell them about them. This could be a wedding, a birthday, or a significant milestone reached by a member of the family. There may not be significant milestones or events that happen each time you write a letter to an inmate, especially if you do this often, but if something does happen, take the time to write about it.

    Template for Letter to an Inmate

    [Your Full Name]  

    [Your Address]  

    [City, State, ZIP Code]  


    [Inmate’s Full Name]  

    [Inmate’s ID Number (if applicable)]  

    [Correctional Facility Name]  

    [Facility Address]  

    [City, State, ZIP Code]

    Dear [Inmate’s Last Name],

    I trust this letter finds you in good health and spirits. I wanted to take a moment to reach out and share a bit of what’s been going on in my life, hoping it brings some connection and warmth your way during your time at [Correctional Facility Name].

    Reflecting on [a memorable experience we shared], it reminded me of the strong connection we’ve always had. Though circumstances have temporarily separated us, please know that you remain in my thoughts and prayers.

    In terms of daily updates, [share news about your life, family, and community events]. I believe staying connected to the outside world is important, and I want to ensure you are aware of the positive occurrences happening around us.

    Your resilience has always been a source of inspiration, and I want to encourage you to remain steadfast. Challenges are temporary, and your strength will carry you through. [Share a story or anecdote that emphasizes resilience and triumph].

    Looking ahead, I’d love to hear about your aspirations and dreams for the future. Despite the current circumstances, discussing future plans can be a source of hope and motivation. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me.

    In the midst of challenges, I want you to find comfort in the knowledge that you are not alone. Your strength is commendable, and I have full confidence that you will emerge from this situation even stronger.

    Closing this letter with warm wishes, I send you thoughts of strength and resilience. Please take good care, and know that you are missed and loved by all of us. Looking forward to brighter days ahead.

    Warm regards,

    [Your First Name]

    Sample Letter to an Inmate

    Hey Martin,

    I hope this letter finds you well and in good spirits. It’s been way too long since we caught up, and I’ve been meaning to drop you a line. Life’s been keeping me on my toes, and I thought sharing a bit of it with you might brighten your day.

    In terms of updates, things have been busy around here. My niece, Emily, just started kindergarten, and she’s already convinced she’s the boss of the whole class. The neighborhood has been organizing a community garden, and it’s turning out to be a beautiful space where everyone chips in.

    Speaking of adventures, I’ve been thinking about our road trip to Pine Lake. Remember that roadside diner with the delicious pancakes? I swear they put magic in the syrup. Good times!

    I can only imagine the challenges you’re facing, and I want you to know that you have my support. Life has a way of throwing curveballs, but your resilience has always impressed me. Remember the time you fixed up that old car of yours against all odds? That same determination will see you through.

    Looking ahead, I’d love to hear about any plans or dreams you have for the future. Your perspective and dreams matter, and I’m here to lend an ear whenever you’re ready to share.

    In the midst of challenges, find strength in knowing that you are not alone. Your friends and family, including myself, are cheering you on. Keep your head up, and remember that brighter days are ahead.

    Closing this letter with warm wishes, I send you thoughts of strength and resilience. Please take good care, and know that you are missed and loved by all of us. I look forward to hearing from you soon.


    Information on the Envelope

    There are more rules that you will need to be mindful of before the letter reaches the intended recipient. Write the inmate’s full name and the booking number of the ID on the envelope. If you do not personally have this information, reach out to a family member for it. 

    Then it is time to add the addresses. First, you must include the complete address of the facility. This is often lengthy, but you should find it on their website. Mention your address correctly so that the facility knows where the letter has come from before giving it to the inmate. 

    Some Quick Tips

    Writing a letter to an inmate can seem daunting at first. You will, however, master it after a few letters and be able to write without any issues.

    Some of the tips you can use to get started include the following:

    Address the letter accurately

    Always follow the guidelines of the facility where the inmate is detained. This can vary from one facility to the next. Usually, the sender should write the inmate’s legal name and booking number. If you know it, you can mention the inmate’s bunk or cell location as well as the institution’s name. The facility should also have a P.O. Box to send the letter.

    Do not include prohibited items or content

    You are not allowed to include some things in letters. Examine the prison rules to find out what you are not allowed to send and what particular subjects you are not permitted to discuss. For example, most facilities will not allow you to send a book directly to the inmate, and you should not talk about any criminal activity in your letters.

    Typically, your letter should not contain a card or any sort of electronic device, and the letter should not have a paper clip or a staple in it. If your letter does take up more than one page, fold them together instead of adding a paperclip or a staple. Also, most facilities will limit the number of pictures you can send, so check the rules in advance.

    You must also be careful about the subjects you choose to write about. Do not have a description of drugs, intoxicants, or physical violence. Any description of using or constructing a weapon will also cause problems.

    Write regularly

    Make a writing schedule if you know somebody who is in jail or prison. While you do not have to write every day, having a writing routine helps you remember to do it and provides the necessary support to the inmates while they are in prison. This also provides something for them to look forward to. Pick a writing schedule that will work for you, allowing you to be supportive while managing your busy schedule.

    Be clear in your intention

    Add your intentions to the letter. Some inmates want you to send them money or enter into a romantic relationship with them. Mention it clearly if you have no intentions of doing any such thing. Setting the boundaries early, especially if you do not know the inmate personally, can help avoid surprises or hurt feelings later on. Your intentions as a spouse or family member may differ from those of an acquaintance or friend, but you should be clear about them from the start.

    Keep your first letter short

    The first letter you write can be short and to the point. Use this time to offer some support and let them know how often you plan to write back to them during their time in jail. Keep the letter brief, but don’t hesitate to mention any noteworthy events that have happened. Make a schedule that you are comfortable with because the prisoner might start to anticipate the letters and get disappointed when they stop coming.  

    Final Words

    A letter is a wonderful way to let a friend or family member know that you are still thinking of them and are ready to help. Even though being in jail or prison can be difficult for anybody, it can get worse if they do not get any support. You will be able to give the prisoners the support and attention they require by writing the letters, which will allow you to connect them to the outside world. Consider reviewing a sample letter to help you get started.

    About This Article

    Susan Cain
    Authored by:
    Writing Authority | Research Specialist | Public Relations Graduate
    Boasting a decade-long career in the content creation arena, Susan Cain has carved a niche for herself as a leading expert in the field. A graduate in public relations, her writing acumen is complemented by her rigorous research skills, making her a dual asset in both content generation and data-backed storytelling. With a keen eye for detail and an academic background in public relations, Susan seamlessly blends persuasive narrative with factual depth, providing content that is both engaging and enlightening. Her multifaceted expertise not only establishes her as a prominent content writer but also as a thought leader in leveraging the symbiotic relationship between effective communication and substantive research.

    Was this helpful?

    Great! Tell us more about your experience

    Not Up to Par? Help Us Fix It!

    Keep Reading

    Thank You for Your Feedback!

    Your Voice, Our Progress. Your feedback matters a lot to us.