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how many calls do you get in prison

16 Jun 2023, Prisons, by

If you or a loved one is facing incarceration, you may be wondering how many calls you can make from prison.

how many calls do you get in prison - Inmate Lookup

When someone is incarcerated, one of the greatest challenges they face is staying in touch with their loved ones outside. Phone calls have been the primary form of communication between inmates and their families for decades. However, the question remains: how many calls do you get in prison?

The rules and limitations of phone calls in prison

Phone calls in prisons are not straightforward. The frequency, duration, and numbers of calls vary from prison to prison, and even from inmate to inmate. The Federal Bureau of Prisons, for example, allows inmates to make phone calls for up to 300 minutes each month. State prisons have different policies, but the average is approximately 120-180 minutes per month.

Furthermore, inmates cannot receive calls from outside; they can only make outgoing calls. Additionally, inmates are not allowed to use cell phones or other devices to communicate with anyone outside the prison walls. All communication must be done through prison-approved phone systems, and calls are typically collect calls that are charged to the recipient’s phone bill.

It is important to note that phone calls in prison are also subject to monitoring and recording by prison staff. This means that inmates should be cautious about what they say during their calls, as anything incriminating or against prison rules could be used against them in disciplinary proceedings or court cases. In some cases, inmates may also be required to provide a list of approved phone numbers that they are allowed to call, and any attempts to contact unauthorized numbers could result in consequences. It is crucial for inmates to understand and follow the rules and limitations of phone calls in prison to avoid any negative consequences.

The impact of limited communication on inmates’ mental health

Having limited communication with loved ones can have a significant impact on an inmate’s mental health. Incarceration is isolating, and studies have shown that inmates who maintain regular contact with their families are less likely to reoffend. Furthermore, inmates who are unable to keep in touch with their loved ones may feel disconnected from society and struggle with loneliness and depression during their sentence.

In addition to the negative effects on mental health, limited communication can also have practical consequences for inmates. Without regular contact with the outside world, inmates may struggle to maintain important relationships, such as those with their children or spouses. This can make it difficult for them to reintegrate into society once they are released, as they may lack the support network necessary to successfully transition back into their communities.

Furthermore, limited communication can exacerbate existing mental health issues among inmates. For example, inmates with pre-existing anxiety disorders may experience heightened symptoms due to the stress and uncertainty of their situation. Without access to regular communication with loved ones or mental health professionals, these individuals may struggle to manage their symptoms and may be at increased risk for self-harm or suicide.

How technology has changed communication in prisons

Technological advances have made communication in prison easier and more accessible. Many facilities now offer email systems that allow inmates to send and receive messages without the limitations of phone calls. Some prisons also offer video visitation, which allows inmates to have a face-to-face conversation with their loved ones from a computer or tablet. While video visitation has its benefits, many people worry that it may eventually replace traditional in-person visits altogether.

In addition to email and video visitation, some prisons have implemented electronic messaging systems that allow inmates to communicate with staff members and request services or report issues. These systems can streamline communication and make it easier for inmates to access necessary resources. However, there are concerns about privacy and security, as these messages may be monitored and used as evidence in disciplinary proceedings.

The cost of phone calls for inmates and their families

The high cost of phone calls is a major issue affecting incarcerated individuals and their families. In some states, the cost of a phone call can be as high as $25 for a 15-minute conversation. These charges can put a significant financial burden on families who are already struggling to make ends meet. It’s important to note that the companies providing phone services to prisons are private corporations that generate profits from these calls, often at the expense of inmates and their loved ones.

Furthermore, the high cost of phone calls can also have negative effects on the mental health and well-being of both inmates and their families. Studies have shown that regular communication with loved ones can help reduce the likelihood of recidivism and improve the mental health of incarcerated individuals. However, the exorbitant cost of phone calls can limit the frequency and duration of these conversations, leading to increased feelings of isolation and depression for both parties.

The role of phone calls in maintaining family relationships during incarceration

The importance of maintaining family relationships while incarcerated cannot be overstated. Maintaining regular phone calls is one way that inmates can stay connected with their loved ones while serving their sentence. Research has shown that inmates who have strong family relationships are more likely to successfully reintegrate into society after their release. Additionally, regular phone calls and communication with their children can help incarcerated parents maintain a sense of connection with their kids and minimize the negative impact of separation on their children.

However, access to phone calls can be limited and expensive for inmates, especially those in lower-income families. This can create a barrier to maintaining regular communication and can further strain family relationships. Some prisons have implemented programs to provide free or reduced-cost phone calls for inmates, but more needs to be done to ensure that all inmates have access to this important means of staying connected with their families.

Prepaid phone cards vs collect calls: which is the better option for inmates?

There are two primary ways that inmates can make phone calls: collect calls or prepaid phone cards. Collect calls are charged to the recipient and are typically more expensive than prepaid phone cards. However, prepaid phone cards have their own limitations, such as a maximum amount of minutes per call or a limit on the number of calls per week. The right choice depends on an inmate’s individual needs and financial situation.

It’s important to note that some correctional facilities only allow one type of phone service, either collect calls or prepaid phone cards. Inmates should check with their facility to see which option is available to them. Additionally, some facilities may offer discounted rates for phone services, so it’s worth exploring all available options before making a decision.

Another factor to consider is the quality of the phone service. In some cases, prepaid phone cards may offer better call quality than collect calls. This is because prepaid phone cards use a dedicated line, while collect calls are routed through a third-party provider. Inmates should weigh the cost and convenience of each option against the quality of the phone service to determine which is the best choice for them.

The debate over video visitation: pros and cons

Video visitation has its benefits, such as convenience and cost savings for families who don’t live near the prison. However, many people worry that it may replace in-person visits entirely, which can be detrimental to an inmate’s emotional well-being. Additionally, some studies have reported technical difficulties with video visitation systems, making the experience frustrating for both inmates and their loved ones.

On the other hand, proponents of video visitation argue that it can actually improve safety within the prison. In-person visits can sometimes lead to the smuggling of contraband, while video visitation eliminates that risk. It also allows for more frequent visits, as there are no restrictions on the number of video visits an inmate can have per week.

Another potential benefit of video visitation is that it can help inmates maintain relationships with their families and friends, which can be crucial for successful reentry into society after release. For those who are incarcerated far from their loved ones, video visitation can provide a more regular and consistent form of communication than in-person visits, which may be infrequent due to distance and cost.

Understanding the process of setting up a call with an inmate

Setting up a phone call with an inmate can be a complicated process, and it varies from prison to prison. Typically, the inmate must add the recipient to their approved phone list, and the recipient must accept the collect calls and pay any associated charges. This process can take time, which can cause further frustration for inmates and their families.

It’s important to note that some prisons may have restrictions on the number of phone calls an inmate can make per week or month. This can be especially difficult for inmates who have limited access to other forms of communication, such as email or video calls. Additionally, some prisons may require that all phone calls be monitored and recorded, which can make it difficult for inmates to have private conversations with their loved ones.

Another factor to consider is the cost of phone calls. In some cases, the charges for collect calls from prison can be quite high, which can be a financial burden for the recipient. Some organizations and advocacy groups have been working to reduce these costs and make it easier for inmates to stay in touch with their families, but there is still a long way to go in terms of making communication more accessible and affordable for everyone.

The importance of monitoring and recording prison phone calls for security purposes

Prison phone calls are monitored and recorded for security purposes, such as preventing the planning of illegal activities or the solicitation of criminal activities. It’s important for both inmates and their families to understand that all communication is being monitored, including email and video visitation.

Alternatives to traditional phone calls for inmates, such as email or messaging systems

As mentioned earlier, technological advances have made it possible for inmates to communicate via email or messaging systems instead of traditional phone calls. These systems can be more affordable for families and can allow more frequent and direct communication between inmates and their loved ones. However, not all prisons have these systems in place, and they come with their own limitations, such as restricted access to the internet and limitations on the amount of messages an inmate can send per day.

Examining the impact of COVID-19 on communication within prisons

COVID-19 has affected every aspect of life, including communication in prisons. In-person visits have been canceled or limited, forcing families to rely more heavily on phone calls and other forms of communication. However, the increased demand for phone calls and limited access to prison phone systems have caused further frustration and difficulties for inmates and their families.

Legal challenges surrounding prison phone calls and inmate rights

There have been several legal challenges regarding prison phone calls and the rights of inmates. For example, the high cost of phone calls has been the subject of lawsuits and calls for reform. Additionally, the limited number and duration of phone calls have been challenged as a violation of inmates’ constitutional rights. It’s essential to advocate for the rights of incarcerated individuals and their families.

A day in the life of an inmate trying to make a phone call

Making a phone call from prison can be a long and frustrating process. It often involves waiting in line for a phone, adding a recipient to the approved phone list, making collect calls, and paying exorbitant fees for each call. For inmates who may face limited access to phones or who have family members who are unable to answer the phone, making a call can feel like an impossible task.

How different countries approach communication policies within their prison systems

Each country has its own policies and regulations surrounding communication in prisons. Some countries, such as Norway, have moved away from traditional phone calls altogether and have implemented alternative communication systems, such as video conferencing. Other countries have strict limitations on phone calls, such as in Australia, where inmates are only allowed to make two five-minute phone calls per week. Understanding how different countries approach communication policies can provide insight into potential solutions and alternatives for the United States.


Inmates and their families face significant challenges when it comes to communication. While traditional phone calls have been the primary form of communication, technological advances provide alternative options that can be more affordable and accessible. It’s important for incarcerated individuals to maintain close relationships with their loved ones to improve their well-being during and after their sentence. Advocating for the rights of inmates and their families, transparent communication policies, and fair pricing for phone calls is essential for ensuring their well-being and successful reentry into society.