How to Send Books and Magazines to an inmate: Important rules you need to know


inmate books
When sending books and magazines to an inmate at any institution there are a few important general rules to remember. 

First all books you send to an inmate must be new, they cannot be used (I can't emphasize this enough). 

DO NOT SEND MORE THEN THREE BOOKS PER ORDER.  Most prisons will only allow an inmate to receive 3 books at a time, or in a given period such as a month.

DO NOT SEND HARDCOVER BOOKS. Institutions will only allow you to send an inmate paperback books, spiral and hardbound books will always be rejected as they pose security risks.

All books and magazines must come directly from the publisher, meaning you cannot order the books to your house and then put them into a box and send them, this is forbidden for security reasons. 

The best place to order books and magazines from is directly from this company.  Make sure they are new books and not used or from marketplace sellers. 

During the checkout process you will need to put the inmates mailing address, which we provide on our site just find the institution they are incarcerated in and the mailing address is at the top of the page.  Put the inmates full committed name in the name fields for shipping address, if you have room put the ID number as well (i.e. John Doe, 12345).  If you do not have room for the ID number you must include this under the company field.

ALWAYS SELECT USPS TO SHIP.  Most shipping addresses for inmates are a Post Office box, thus you must also select the ship to post office box option on the shipping screen during checkout to ensure delivery.

It is the discretion of the institution to allow certain books in or not, as a general rule do not send any books that are violent or relate to the crime the inmate committed.  Worst case scenario the shipment will be rejected and the company above will automatically refund all your money including shipping charges.

Do not send books or Magazines to inmates who are housed at temporary or Classification centers as these inmates are usually transferred out relatively quickly so they may not accept packages until the inmate reaches the final institution they will be housed at.


Return to Sender

I had  written a letter to an inmate two months ago. I have no idea if he received it or if he is able to respond. I sent another letter about two weeks ago. Today I recieved the second letter back with a yellow sticker saying: RETURN TO SENDER -VACANT-UNABLE TO FORWARD. I checked the address to make sure it was correct and it was. What does this mean? I'm a little confused.

Did you send just a letter?

Did you send just a letter? Or did you send pictures with the letter? I Just had the same thing happen to me. The person is still incarcerated. But, i sent some pictures and they were all returned to me. The pictures followed all the guidelines. It also said the same thing as yours! Pretty strange? I think.

BPRichfield's picture

re: Sending letters and photos

Vacant usually means the offender has either been discharged or moved to another facility.


What happens to items that are shipped from Amazon but not delivered to an inmate?  I'm referring to a box of candy and some winter slippers

BPRichfield's picture

Contraband sent to an inmate

It depends on the facility.  Usually they will return to sender the package and Amazon will recredit you, but some facilities will confiscate/destroy the items.

Question about Southwoods

I have a family member who I've never this time I'd prefer to keep it that way. However I would like to send him a bible and some other paperback inspirational books. I have no experience with this of any kind...I would just like to know If i do order thru Amazon and its sent to him, is the sender info anonymous???, i.e my location, name.. all that. Thank for your assistance in advance. 

magazines and books to send from

I want to send my husband, some jewelery , sneakers and some X rated magazines.  Just don't no wat company has that. Do u no if they can get magazines from amazon or just Barnes and nobles? Need to no more company's that send that kind of thing.

The man is in jail.  Why

The man is in jail.  Why would you want to send him x rated magazines?  Why wouldnt you try to send him inspirational books and a bible to help him?

BPRichfield's picture

re: Magazines and books

No facility will let you send an x rated magazine.  The closest thing you can get is a magazine like Maxim.  Being allowed to send all the other items you said will depend on what facility he is incracerated in.

Xrated magazines

I disagree, my brother receives playboy.  But I think he just reads the articles! 

BPRichfield's picture

re:Xrated magazines

oh yeah?  What prison is he in??  Maybe he just tells you that he does, prisons are very strict on pornagraphic material and if he has anything like Playboy it considered contraband and likely smuggled in.

Getting mail in Special Housing Units

If they get sent to "the box" do they still get mail or is it returned to the original senders address??

BPRichfield's picture

re: Mail while in Solitary

Inmate's cannot receive mail while in solitary, some facilities will just hold the mail until they are released while others will return to sender.

Christmas Cards

Are inmates in Saginaw Correction Facility allowed to recieve Christmas cards or other cards for that matter? If so what are the christmas cards have glitter on them.

BPRichfield's picture

re: Christmas Cards

Not sure if they can at Saginaw, check our page on Saginaw by searching for it on our site.  I know in general correctional facilities do not allow electronic cards and cards with glitter are usually not allowed either.  You could call the facility to see, or you could just send it and if it isn't allowed they will return it to sender.

Mailing Questions

Hello there -

This may be a stupid queston but how do I adress the mail? My sister is currently in Framingham. Do I address it to her name and or ID number and the address?  For Ex Smith Roberts (7644567) i just want to make sure she gets the letter. Also how does the money situation go? Can I just add a money order to the letter I am sending? Thanks

BPRichfield's picture

re: mail questions

It is only a stupid question because it has already been answered on our site.  Use the menu at the top of the page to navigate to your facility, in this case Framingham in MA.  The answer to your questions can be found there.


my husband is in kilby correction facility. I can not find any information on sending stamps and envelopes or how I'm supposed to address mail to him.  I have a Manila envelope with eight stamps and envelopes. Would this be acceptable?

BPRichfield's picture

re: Mail to Kilby Correctional

People, before you post questions about a specific facility, please use our site as it was intended by searching for the facility in the dropdown menu at the top of the page.  It will answer many of the questions you have for a specific institution.  For instance the answer to this question can be found on our Kilby Correctional Facility page here.  If you still can't find the answer to your question please post the question on the page for that facility.


How many pictures can i send at a time?

BPRichfield's picture

Number of photos

Depends on what institution you are talking about, you can send 5 per envelope (one stamp covers the weight of 5) but some facilities limit the number of photos in the inmate's possession to 3.  Let us know what facility you are talking about and we can give you a clearer answer.

How many photos can I send to

How many photos can I send to Ulster correctional facility? 

bertie ci number of pics

My little brother is at Bertie and I want to send him some pics. How many can he have in his possession there?

BPRichfield's picture

re: Number of Pictures allowed at Bertie

Check our page on Bertie correctional here, if the answer isn't there, then post your question on that page, or call the institution at the telephone number provided.

how many pictures can I send

My husband is in Florence West, how many pics can I send? We have 6 kids together and he wants pics of all of them


BPRichfield's picture

Number of pictures you can send

You'll have to find Florence West on our site and see what the rules are.  Usually an inmate can only have 3-5 photos in their possession at one time.  If you have six kids why not take some pictures that have all your kids in them together, or a few in each photo.  You can send up to 5 per envelope on a single stamp.  I would just send in 5 and if he is allowed less he can pick which one he wants to keep.

block Mail

How can i stop one of your inmates from sending me mail?

Prayer Rug

A friend is asking for a prayer rug, he is located in southern state prison delmont, nj... Will I be able to buy it from amazon as well and have it sent to the prison?

BPRichfield's picture

re: Prayer Rug

As far as I know you cannot order this and have it sent to the inmate.  The inmate can contact his counselor and see what can be done about it since it may fall under an allowable religious item....bump not sure on this one.

Book Shipping Question

I just recently published a book that I've been working on for 10 years and the inmate would really like to see it. Unfortunately, it is a big 224 page hardcover book. Can I remove the hardcover from the book and send the book to him in 1/4" sections? Also, the book is 10.5"x11". If I use a larger envelope to accomodate the size will this be allowed? If not, can you suggest any way that I could show him the book?

Thank you!  


BPRichfield's picture

Sending a Hardcover

No, you cannot take the hardcover off and send it, the book cannot come from you at all it must come directly from the vendor amazon and must be softcover.  The only way I can think of that you could send your book would be to either copy it or transcribe it into a letter and send it a few pages at a time.

receiving mail from an inmate

I've sent A letter and two books to my boyfriend
How will I know if he's received them and how do I get a correspondence from him. Plus I live in London can he call Me collect or something.
Does he need money in order him to write Me back and if so how do I send from London to him?

BPRichfield's picture

re: Receiving mail from an inmate

What institution is he in?  Depending on the facility you may have no way of sending funds to him.  Most inmates need money in their account to send a letter, not sure how overseas postage would work.  How did you send the book, did it come directly from the publisher/amazon?  Not sure if they can call collect to a foreign country, you may want to read over our guide on saving money on inmate phone calls, as you may benefit from setting up a google voice account with a local area code (local to the prison) and having the calls connect to your London number (if that is even possible).  Give it a try and let us know how it works out.

Money for Personal Items

my nephew is there he says he needs money for personal items is this true or are they provided such as deodorant and toothpaste?

BPRichfield's picture

re: Money for personal items

We have no idea where 'there' is.  You will need to at least tell us the institution your nephew is located for us to try and help get you an answer.  Most facilities provide common hygenic items such as toothbrush, toothpaste etc.  Some prisons/jails let you buy items directly from the commissary for the offender while others only allow you to put money in the inmate's commissary account.