Your loved one will ask you to send money and you need to know what they are provided by the prison system and what they need additional money for. Remember to stay within your budget when you send money. No matter how much you want your loved one to be as comfortable as possible in prison, you need to make sure that your family on the outside is being provided for.
Why You Need To Send Money to Prison
The minimal basic necessities are provided to your loved one in prison. Typically soap, comb, toothbrush, tooth powder, uniform, undergarments, shoes and bedding. Sometimes shampoo, pencil, paper and envelopes are provided. Additional hygiene products, writing utensils, paper, envelopes, stamps, some clothes items, shoes, watch, radio and food snacks may be able to be ordered from the prison commissary. Your loved one will need to obtain a list of items available at their facility.
Most facilities do not allow you to mail anything but letters and pictures to your loved one. Typically books and periodicals can be shipped by reputable companies. Some facilities provide the option for you to purchase a special food package for your loved ones during the holidays.
Know the Facility Rules on How to Send Money and How Much You Can Send
Inmates are not allowed to handle cash so you need to know how to send money to a loved one in prison. You must mail a money order, Western Union or go through an approved 3rd party vendor to send money to your loved one. Each facility is a little different, so make sure you verify the approved method as well as the address to send money to your loved one. The address may be to a central department of corrections address and not the facility.
How much money to send to loved one in prison?
This is a personal choice and what you can afford. Here are some suggestions:
Send a monthly allowance. You are typically charged by the 3rd party vendor or for the money order, so save yourself a little money and send a monthly allowance. This will give your loved one a sense of responsibility and keep them in touch with handling finances and keeping a budget. The monthly allowance can be as little as $5 or as much as $100. Your loved one will use the money to buy food and order additional supplies. Do not send too much money or they will learn fast that others will take advantage of them. Even if they don’t tell anyone how much money they have in their account, other inmates can guess just by how much your loved one is buying. It is not a good idea for them to buy food or supplies for other inmates as this may lead to expectations in the future. You can send extra money for holidays/birthdays where they can order additional supplies: Inmates can use money on account to purchase food at the commissary and to order supplies, such as hygiene supplies, radio, sneakers, watch, paper, etc.
See Friend needed money and supplies in prison for types of supplies inmates can purchase.