A small selection of our female inmates looking for a pen pal – click to view profile.

Some hints and tips when writing to inmates

Check outdates if possible on state prison websites. Expect to be writing for the long haul if the inmate is going to be held another couple of years.

Assure the inmate you will not write a couple of letters, then disappear. This is a real downer for an inmate.

Be up front if there is a significant age difference between you and your potential pen pal. Some female inmates are quite happy to have pen pals as much as 25 years older than they are. Others prefer a pen pal who could be a part of their lives after release. In most cases, they appreciate the honesty.

Be up front about marital status. Many inmates are happy someone helps make their day a bit better. And they appreciate the honesty.

If you correspond with an inmate held in the state you live in, they will ask you to visit. Be aware of this before writing.

It is best not to correspond with two inmates at the same facility or within the same state, because of transfers where they could eventually end up at the same institution

When corresponding with inmates, it is helpful to them to offer stamps from time to time. Be sure of the facility policy……state differs from federal….states differ from each other. The stamps help the correspondence and they can use them for barter.

From the beginning, make it clear you will not forward a letter from them to another inmate. Most, if not all states prohibit inmates exchanging letters.

For whatever reason, an inmate may choose not to respond. Respect this decision. If you do not want your letter given to another inmate, say so.

Be aware that, through no fault of your pen pal, your address could wind up in another inmate’s hands. Rent a PO Box….they aren’t expensive.

If you correspond with an inmate for a long, long time, they may ask you for your telephone number. You must decide this for yourself. Telephone calls by inmates are very, very expensive.

Inmates are pretty much the same kinds of people as in the free world overall. There are some scam artists, some manipulators, some immature, some wise, some caring, some sincere, some sweet, some rotten. Because you can’t be around them in every day life, it’s more difficult to get to see what kind of person someone in prison really is, both good AND bad. It takes more time to get to know someone in this kind of friendship because you have less time actually interacting with them.

Be wary about requests to send money soon. If you aren’t the kind of person to give tens or hundreds of dollars to someone you’ve only spent a few hours with in your life if they request it, don’t send money to inmates after a few letters. However, donations like magazine subscriptions or books (ordered and shipped directly from a distributor) are a much wiser choice to make.

The women who want someone to “hold me down” are looking for money. That’s what that phrase means. You’ll end up being just an ATM in the free world for her if you fall for this.

Avoid cliché filled ads:

I’m a good person who’s made a few bad choices.

I truly am a good person in a bad situation.

I’m not a bad person, I just made bad choices.

I just made a mistake.

In other words “who me?” For many inmates, being in prison is a result of a lifestyle, not just a few moments of bad choices.

While it can be very disappointing to receive money type requests in the first letter or so, some of their ad’s give hints as to this leaning. Examples are if she is seeking someone who is:

Financially stable or secure

Older gentleman (particularly from women in their 20s)

Distinguished gentleman

Gentlemen with the heart of gold



Independent (meaning independently wealthy)

High standards and values

Sensitive to my wants/needs/desires

Talks about travel and fine dining

Woman who loves to be spoiled

Who will be there for me

Make me as comfortable as possible

Be particularly wary of any variation “Looking for a man who can treat me right.”

There are two types that are far more likely put on the sex charm:

Those being released in under a year and looking for a place to stay so they can be eligible for parole

Those with decades long sentences trying to entice someone who is likely leaning towards short-timers they can meet up with

Beware of those who are looking not so much for a pen-pal but for a dating match (and all the problems that can ensue from that).

Those who talk about partying and carrying on a lifestyle that brought them to prison in the first place. Rehabilitation is hard and it must be wanted. People who distance themselves from any acknowledgement or responsibility with their crime are poor risks. They should desire a better life, not more of the same mess that got them locked up.

“I’m sexy!” She can mention it once, maybe twice, but if most or all of her ad gives you the hooker vibe, steer clear. It doesn’t have to be talking about how “sexy” she is, either. She’s locked up and can’t deliver anything tangible in this area. Any overt promises of fulfilling your wildest fantasies, or anything like that, and it’ll more than likely end up with her using you through your wallet and bank account.

Financial Support. It is a given that a time may come when you will either be asked, or will on your own want to send some money to your pen pal. However, she should not make money the primary purpose of the relationship between you two. Unless you want it that way

Lost Puppy Mindset. She is *NOT* a damsel in distress needing to be rescued, and she is not a lost puppy dog needing a home. While she may not be a bad-ass, hardened criminal mastermind, she probably is not a virgin angelic schoolgirl who just happened to get mistaken for someone else. She’s been convicted because there is reasonable evidence that she did something criminal, or she admitted to it in court. People who need to be rescued typically are their own worst enemies and the cause of everything they need to be rescued from. They end up resenting their rescuers for taking control and trying to get them to change from their self-destructive ways. They may take you down with them in a criminal scheme if you try to rescue them.

Conviction Explanation. A bit of unease is expected. She probably won’t want to reveal every detail of her criminal history. But not saying anything, or trying to brush it off for a future date, is suspicious. Also, be wary of “mistakes” as an explanation. If she is sincere, she should want you to know where she is coming from.

Once you find someone you’d like to write to (or have already written to), do a Google search on her name in quotation marks, and her state. You never know what you might find out (like she was convicted of something you don’t want to deal with). Also, do a search with her name under Google Images. You might find where else she has a profile.

Many states have a photo of their inmates. Do a search for (state name) Department of Corrections or (state name) Inmate Locator. The photo will be current, and usually include info like current height, weight, age, and sentence/release date.