7 Best Pen Pal Sites to Write a Prisoner [2024]

by Ryan Hart | Updated on March 5, 2024 | Post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Everyone needs companionship, even if their only contact is through letters. That being said, there are ways to find a prisoner or inmate to become pen pals with.

When you become prison pen pals with someone, you are their connection to the outside world. Waiting for your correspondence gives them something to look forward to when everything else is bleak.

So, relying on sources where you can find prison pen pals will make connecting with someone in need easier.

man in prison

What is the Best Prison Pen Pal Site?

You’ll see that there are only a few sites where you can find prison pen pals. These seven sites give you everything you need to get started if you want to meet an inmate.

1. Write A Prisoner

Write a Prisoner website

At Write A Prisoner, you can search for prison pen pals by state, race, religion, gender, or age.

Each inmate listed on the site has a profile (with a picture) that you can use to find out more information about them. This includes where they went to school, how long their prison sentence will last, and the crime that landed them there.

When you’ve chosen which prisoner you want to correspond with, you can contact them through postal mail or email. You can even type a letter and have it printed on stationary.

What the Write A Prisoner Site Does Best:

If you want to find out more about the community programs that prisons run for their inmates, Write A Prisoner is a great resource. You may even be able to arrange for a care package to be created for someone about to be released.

2. Wire of Hope

Wire of Hope website

Wire of Hope is a site where you can volunteer to become prison pen pals with someone. When you don’t know where to start, this site has all the resources you need. It lets you search for prisoners based on very specific criteria, including their astrological sign, body type, release year, and prison sentence length.

The site also lets you find a pen pal for an inmate you know personally. For a small fee, you can get them a one-year subscription so they can correspond with those in the outside world.

What the Wire of Hope Site Does Best:

You may be interested in connecting with prisoners but not know what to say or how to say it. Wire of Hope provides tutorials and tips to help you get started.

3. Meet an Inmate

Meet an Inmate website

Meet an Inmate has been operating since 1998 and makes it easy for you to find a pen pal for an incarcerated loved one or become a pen pal yourself. You can search for either male or female inmates when looking for someone to write to.

Anyone you find to correspond with through the site is a known convicted felon. Meet an Inmate encourages you to be cautious when communicating with a prisoner.

For the most part, when you write a prisoner you found on the site, it has to be through postal mail. Only select prisoners can communicate with their pen pals through emails.

What Meet an Inmate Does Best:

It is easy to verify the information on any inmate when you use this site. Prisoners are sorted by the state they are incarcerated in, though some states do not allow you to find inmates online.

4. Caged Ladies

Caged Ladies website

When you want to meet a female inmate, you can do it quickly using Caged Ladies. All you have to do is scroll through their pictures and find one you want to write to. Clicking on an inmate’s picture gets you their profile, including instructions on contacting them properly.

You can sort through your choices depending on the age group you want to write to. Note that profiles do not include information on what a particular woman was incarcerated for, but you are allowed to ask in your correspondence.

What the Caged Ladies Site Does Best:

These women are isolated from the opposite gender, so many are looking for a kind and understanding man to communicate with.

5. Women Behind Bars

Women Behind Bars website

Women Behind Bars provides female prisoners free access to pen pals outside the prison system. You can sort through prisoners based on race and age. Though currently, all the female prisoners are in the U.S., Women Behind Bars plans to make it possible to write to inmates in other countries.

What the Women Behind Bars Site Does Best:

If you want to connect with someone on an intimate level, Women Behind Bars gives you the option of listing your own profile and letting the inmates come to you. And once you’ve met someone, the site offers a love calculator to help you figure out if it’s an ideal match.

6. Penacon

Penacon website

Whether you are looking for friendship or a relationship with an inmate, Penacon will likely be a huge help. You can search for inmates based on the kind of connection you want. There is even a section where you can choose an LGBTQ pen pal.

Inmates are divided into categories, including those incarcerated in urban and rural areas. This makes it easy to find exactly who you are looking for. If you want to reach out to someone who doesn’t have anyone to visit them, there is a small section of inmates who have never had a pen pal but want one badly.

What the Penacon Site Does Best:

Penacon lists those who are allowed to receive gifts in prison. When you want to send a gift but don’t know what to choose, the site will help you decide what to get them.

7. Inmate Classified

Inmate Classified website

Inmate Classified is a site that cares about making prison sentences easier on the incarcerated. It’s been in operation since 1996 and connects prisoners with those who can give them hope for the future. Using this site, you can sort prisoners by who has been incarcerated for the longest.

You can use the site to submit your first correspondence as soon as you find someone you want to write to. All you have to do is fill out the form, and Inmate Classified will print it out and mail it to them. The site sends mail to prisoners every Friday, so you can give them something to look forward to.

If you include your home address in your initial letter, the inmate will have the option of writing a letter back to you. If you don’t want to give them your home address, you can send the letter through postal mail, and they will email you an electronic copy. This way, you can communicate with the prisoner of your choice without running the risk of receiving spam emails.

What the Inmate Classified Site Does Best:

If you want a deeper understanding of prisoners' struggles, Inmate Classified keeps you updated through articles and opinion pieces on issues with the justice system. Reading these articles may help you relate to the prisoners better.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a prison pen pal?

A prison pen pal is someone who communicates with an inmate through letters, offering a connection to the outside world. This arrangement can involve people from all walks of life who correspond with incarcerated individuals, including male and female prisoners, regardless of their sentences. Prison pen pals can provide inmates with a lifeline to society, which can be particularly significant for those serving long terms or even a life sentence. These relationships can be crucial for inmates, offering emotional support, friendship, and a window to a world outside of prison walls.

Inmate pen pal programs aim to foster positive relationships and help prisoners cope with the isolation and challenges of incarceration. For many inmates, these correspondences offer a chance for personal growth and rehabilitation by maintaining ties with the community and improving their communication skills. Additionally, these relationships can be beneficial for the pen pals themselves, providing a deeper understanding of different life experiences and the criminal justice system. People become prison pen pals for various reasons, including humanitarian outreach, social or religious motivations, or simple curiosity about the life and thoughts of someone living a radically different existence.

How can I find prison pen pals safely?

Finding prison pen pals safely involves several steps to ensure that the experience is positive and secure for both you and the inmate. Here are some guidelines to help you establish a safe and meaningful connection:

Use Reputable Services: Start by using reputable websites and services that facilitate inmate penpal connections. These services often have systems in place to promote safety and transparency. They provide details about the inmates, including their interests and the length of their sentences, which can help you choose someone you might have a constructive dialogue with.

Understand the Rules: Educate yourself about the rules and regulations of corresponding with an inmate. Each institution may have different guidelines on what can be sent and received through mail call. Ensuring that you adhere to these rules can prevent any potential issues for both you and the inmate.

Protect Your Privacy: When you begin writing, it’s wise to use a post office box rather than your home address. This adds a layer of privacy and security to your correspondence. Additionally, be cautious about the amount of personal information you share until you establish trust and a better understanding of the inmate.

Set Clear Boundaries: It’s important to set clear boundaries from the beginning. Discuss the nature of your communication and keep it respectful and platonic. Setting these boundaries early on can help prevent misunderstandings and ensure that the relationship remains positive.

Focus on Positive Contacts: Look for inmates who are interested in making positive life changes and who value having loyal persons as pen pals. Many inmates seek pen pals to learn about the outside world, pursue educational goals, or prepare to reintegrate into society.

Financial Considerations: Be aware that some services require inmates to pay for the opportunity to list themselves as looking for pen pals, which can influence their motivation to seek contacts. Be cautious if an inmate starts asking for money or financial assistance, as this can lead to complicated situations.

Monitor the Relationship: As you correspond, keep an eye on how the relationship develops. Ensure that it remains healthy and that both parties benefit from the exchange. It’s okay to discontinue communication if you feel uncomfortable or if the relationship takes a direction you are not happy with.

By following these guidelines, you can safely explore the world of inmate pen pals and potentially provide valuable support and friendship to someone who is cut off from the regular social interactions of the outside world.

What are the benefits of writing to someone in prison?

Writing to someone in prison as a pen pal can offer significant benefits for both the inmate and the person on the outside. This form of communication serves as a powerful tool in the rehabilitation process for inmates, helping them maintain social skills, remain connected to the outside world, and prepare for eventual reintegration into society. For many inmates, receiving mail is a highlight of their day, significantly alleviating feelings of isolation and loneliness. Regular correspondence with a loyal person can provide a sense of continuity and hope, which are crucial for emotional stability and personal growth.

From the perspective of the pen pal, this relationship can lead to forming new friendships that enrich their lives with unique insights and perspectives. Engaging with inmates can challenge stereotypes and foster a deeper understanding of human beings under different life circumstances. Furthermore, inmates often pay to list themselves as looking for pen pals, which indicates their genuine interest in forming outside connections. This can lead to meaningful exchanges that benefit both parties, providing personal satisfaction and a sense of contributing positively to another’s life. Overall, being a prison pen pal is a mutually beneficial experience that can impact personal growth and offer support during crucial times of someone’s life.

Are there specific rules or guidelines I should follow when writing to a prison penpal?

When writing to a prison pen pal, it’s crucial to adhere to specific guidelines and rules to ensure safe and appropriate communication. First and foremost, familiarize yourself with the specific regulations of the prison where your pen pal is incarcerated. Each facility has its own set of rules about what can be included in letters and what items are prohibited, such as certain types of photos, stickers, or even specific content in your letters.

Always use respectful and appropriate language in your correspondence. All letters are likely to be read by prison staff, so it’s important to avoid slang, explicit content, or any language that could be misconstrued or cause problems for your pen pal. Initially, limit the personal information you share; it’s wise to use just your first name and a post office box rather than your home address.

Steer clear of sensitive topics such as illegal activities, detailed personal issues, or security procedures within the prison. These topics could potentially lead to issues for both you and your pen pal. Be clear about your intentions for writing; whether it’s offering support, seeking friendship, or learning from each other, clear communication can help set proper expectations.

Respect your pen pal’s privacy by keeping the details of your conversations confidential, and be cautious about sending money or gifts, especially early in your correspondence. Many prisons have strict rules about what inmates can receive, and sending money or gifts can complicate the relationship.

Following these guidelines can help establish a positive and meaningful exchange with your prison pen pal, providing support and friendship while ensuring that both parties feel comfortable and respected throughout the correspondence.

Bottom Line

Woman writing a letter

In today’s world, it can be easy to feel disconnected and alone. We are often so wrapped up in our own lives that we forget there are other people out there who may be going through tough times.

One way to reach out and connect with others is to become a pen pal with a prisoner. This unique form of correspondence can provide companionship and support for both parties involved.

For the prisoner, a pen pal can offer much-needed contact with the outside world. In addition, a pen pal can provide an invaluable listening ear, offering nonjudgmental support and understanding.

For the person on the outside, becoming a pen pal can provide an opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life. In addition, it can be a way to learn more about the criminal justice system and the challenges prisoners face.

Whether you are looking for companionship or a way to make a difference, writing to a prisoner is a rewarding experience.

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About the Author:
Ryan Hart

Ryan Hart is a certified relationship coach and writer. His mission is to help make connections between people better, stronger, more meaningful, and longer lasting using technology.

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