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How to Send Money to an Inmate: A Complete Guide to Commissaries in Correctional Facilities

20 Jun 2023, Prisons, by

Learn how to send money to an inmate with our comprehensive guide to commissaries in correctional facilities.

How to Send Money to an Inmate: A Complete Guide to Commissaries in Correctional Facilities - Inmate Lookup

If you have a loved one who is incarcerated, you may want to send them money to purchase items from the commissary. Commissaries in correctional facilities provide inmates with the opportunity to purchase snacks, toiletries, and other personal care items. However, navigating the process of sending money to an inmate can be confusing and overwhelming. In this article, we will provide you with a complete guide to commissaries in correctional facilities, including how to send money to an inmate, how commissaries work, where inmate money goes, and how to find a correctional facility near you.

Understanding Commissaries in Correctional Facilities

Commissaries in correctional facilities are essentially stores that allow inmates to purchase goods while they are incarcerated. These stores are typically located within the facility and are stocked with a variety of items, including snacks, beverages, clothing, and toiletries. Commissaries are usually run by a private company, and they allow inmates to purchase items using money that they or their loved ones have sent to their inmate account.

The Role of Commissaries in Inmate Life

Commissaries play a critical role in inmate life. They provide inmates with access to personal care items and snacks that they may not be able to get through other means. Additionally, commissaries are a way for inmates to stay connected to the outside world, as loved ones can send them money to make purchases. Commissaries also provide a source of income for correctional facilities, as they typically receive a percentage of the sales made in the commissary.

How Commissaries Work: A Comprehensive Guide

Commissaries work by allowing inmates to purchase items using money in their inmate account. The inmate account is essentially a bank account that is set up for each inmate, and it allows them to receive money from their loved ones. Inmates can use the money in their inmate account to make purchases in the commissary, as well as to pay for phone calls and other services within the correctional facility.

The Benefits of Commissaries for Inmates

Commissaries provide a sense of autonomy and independence for inmates, as they are able to make their own purchases and have control over what they consume and use. This can be especially important for inmates who may feel powerless or restricted in other areas of their life while incarcerated. Additionally, commissaries can provide a source of entertainment for inmates, as they can purchase items such as books, magazines, and playing cards.

The Challenges of Operating Commissaries

While commissaries can provide many benefits for inmates and correctional facilities, there are also challenges to operating them. One challenge is ensuring that the items sold in the commissary are safe and do not pose a security risk. Another challenge is managing the flow of money and ensuring that all transactions are properly recorded and accounted for. Additionally, there may be issues with theft or misuse of commissary funds by inmates or staff members.

Sending Money to Inmates: Everything You Need to Know

If you want to send money to an inmate, there are several options available to you. Some of the most common options include:

Available Options for Sending Money to Inmates

  • Online money transfer services
  • Postal money orders
  • In-person at the correctional facility

One of the most convenient options for sending money to an inmate is to use an online money transfer service. These services allow you to send money directly from your bank account or credit card to the inmate’s account. Some of the most popular online money transfer services for inmates include JPay, Western Union, and MoneyGram.

Tips for Sending Money Safely and Securely

When sending money to an inmate, it is important to do so safely and securely. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Only send money to the inmate’s official account
  • Use a reputable online money transfer service
  • Avoid sending cash through the mail
  • Be aware of common scams

It is also important to note that some correctional facilities may have specific rules and regulations regarding sending money to inmates. For example, there may be limits on the amount of money that can be sent at one time, or restrictions on the types of payment methods that are accepted. Before sending money to an inmate, it is a good idea to check with the facility to ensure that you are following all of the necessary guidelines.

Another option for sending money to an inmate is to use a postal money order. This method involves purchasing a money order from the post office and then mailing it to the correctional facility. While this option may be more time-consuming than using an online money transfer service, it can be a good choice for those who do not have access to a computer or who prefer to use a more traditional payment method.

Where Does Inmate Money Go? A Breakdown of the System

When you send money to an inmate, it goes into their inmate account. From there, the money is used to pay for any outstanding fees or fines, such as court fees or restitution. After these fees are paid, the remaining funds can be used by the inmate to make purchases in the commissary or to pay for phone calls or other services within the correctional facility.

Understanding Inmate Trust Accounts

Inmate trust accounts are separate from the inmate account and are typically used to hold any money that an inmate earns while in prison, such as from a prison job. Inmates can use the money in their trust account to purchase items from the commissary or to save for their release from prison.

How Inmate Money is Used in Correctional Facilities

The money that is spent in the commissary is usually split between the private company that operates the commissary and the correctional facility. The facility may use the money to fund programs or services for inmates, such as educational courses or counseling services.

The Importance of Inmate Money Management

It is important for inmates to manage their money wisely, as they have limited funds and must make them last until their release. Many correctional facilities offer financial education courses to help inmates learn how to budget and save their money. Inmates who are able to save money in their trust accounts may have a better chance of success upon release, as they will have some funds to help them get back on their feet.

The Role of Family and Friends in Inmate Money Management

Family and friends of inmates can play a role in helping them manage their money while they are incarcerated. They can send money to the inmate’s account, but they can also help the inmate make wise purchasing decisions in the commissary. Additionally, family and friends can encourage the inmate to save money in their trust account and provide financial support upon their release.

Finding a Correctional Facility: Tips and Resources

If you need to find a correctional facility near you, there are several resources available. One option is to search online for correctional facilities in your state or region. Additionally, many states have a department of corrections website that provides information about correctional facilities in the state, including their location and contact information.

How to Search for a Facility Near You

The easiest way to search for a correctional facility near you is to use an online search engine, such as Google. Simply type in the name of your state or region along with the keywords “correctional facilities” or “prisons” to find a list of facilities in your area. From there, you can visit each facility’s website to learn more about their commissary and inmate account policies.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Facility

When choosing a correctional facility, there are several factors to consider. Some of the most important factors include the facility’s safety record, the quality of the programs and services offered to inmates, and the distance from your home or work. Additionally, it is important to research the facility’s commissary to ensure that your loved one will have access to the items they need.

Visitation Policies

Another important factor to consider when choosing a correctional facility is their visitation policies. Some facilities may have strict rules and regulations regarding visitation, including limited hours or specific dress codes. It is important to research these policies beforehand to ensure that you are able to visit your loved one and comply with the facility’s rules.

Education and Job Training Programs

Many correctional facilities offer education and job training programs to help inmates prepare for life after their release. These programs can include vocational training, GED classes, and college courses. When choosing a facility, it is important to consider the quality and availability of these programs, as they can greatly impact an inmate’s chances of success upon release.

Managing Your User Account on Inmate Services Websites

Many online money transfer services and inmate account management websites allow you to create a user account. These accounts can provide you with added convenience and security when sending money to an inmate. Here are some benefits of creating a user account:

Benefits of Creating a User Account

  • Faster and more convenient money transfers
  • Saved payment information
  • Access to your account history
  • Increased security for your financial information

How to Navigate and Use User Accounts Effectively

If you decide to create a user account on an inmate services website, it is important to familiarize yourself with the features and functions of the website. Be sure to keep your login information secure and up-to-date, and always be mindful of any fees or charges associated with using the service.

Overall, sending money to an inmate can be a complex process, but with a little bit of research and planning, you can ensure that your loved one has access to the items they need while incarcerated. Use the information in this guide to navigate the system of commissaries and inmate accounts with confidence and ease.

It is also important to note that some inmate services websites may offer additional features and services beyond just money transfers and account management. For example, some websites may allow you to purchase phone credits or send messages to your loved one. Take the time to explore the website and see what other services may be available to you.