Sending money to an inmate is rather easy and is being made even easier all the time thanks to innovations in technology. Most larger departments are utilizing money transfer systems right within their buildings using devices like an ATM, you simply insert cash and the money is then applied to an inmates books later in the day.

There is still the old fashioned way of sending money to an inmate using Western Union, or mailing the inmate a US Postal money order. Mailing money to an inmate this way is often the safest way as it can be tracked much better by both parties.

"What do inmates use money for in prison if they don't have to pay for anything?"

This question is often the most asked and is simple to explain. In most all prisons and county jails there is a commissary which allows inmates to purchase goods much like we do at convenience stores. These goods can be deodorant, soap, snacks and beverages - anything that is allowed within the prison. Realize that this merchandise is also treated like money on the inside - so it's best to know what your relative or loved one needs the commissary for. Often times an inmate needs to use their commissary funds to pay off a debt or to pay for protection. It's hard to know which and most likely the inmate won't say anything to you about this or to the guards.

If you are asked to put money on an inmates books (send money), the amount should not be more than they can possibly spend at one time. Meaning, there is only so much they can buy at one time - call around to other family members and ask if the inmate is also requesting money from them. A large influx of cash on an inmate's books could mean there is trouble for the inmate at the facility.

Here are some other warning signs of trouble and especially, what to look for so you aren't conned into sending an inmate money when they don't need it:

An inmate might make the following claims:

"I accidentally broke prison, if I don't pay for it I'll be placed in solitary and have time added to my sentence."

If it was truly an accident then the prison staff wouldn't do anything. If the inmate broke the property on purpose, maybe they would get a write up and lose some good time credit.

"I need money for my bond so I can get out and appeal my case"

Not true at all. Once the person has been tried for a crime and convicted... and are sitting in prison or county jail waiting to be transferred - game over. No amount of bail will free them - only time will.

"I need to file an appeal, please send me money to pay my lawyer."

If this were the case, send the money directly to the lawyer. As well, check the state where the lawyer practices to ensure they are listed with the BAR association.

"I was given an early release can you send money for my travel?"

If the inmate you are conversing with is in for "life" this is probably not the case as well if they have a sentence of a great period of time and they still have 50% or more to do. If you do want to send travel funds buy the ticket yourself in the persons name. This way if it is a con you can cash the ticket in - no one else.

"I don't have identification, is it ok if you buy a ticket in my friends name - she will pick up the ticket for me."

Most people who are exiting prison don't often have ID or current ID so everyone is given a new prison issued ID. Secondly, if you are going to buy a ticket - buy it in the person's name. Again, if it is a con (and this is) you can get a refund of the ticket since you purchased it. More than likely her "friend" will simply cash the ticket and keep the funds.

"I was only sentenced to a year and need to pay a fine so I can be released."

Nope. While there may be a fine looming, or restitution, prisons and jails can't hold a person who is ordered to pay a fine. This person will be given parole or probation and will have to pay the fines once released.

When corresponding to an inmate or if you wish to send an inmate money first find out what the need for money is. You can also do a free inmate search to make sure the inmate is at that prison.

Author's Bio: 

Dominick is a professional writer who likes to spend time with his family and dogs in his free time. He is a published author of several books.