How To Send Money to Someone in Prison or Jail

How To Send Money to Someone in Prison or Jail

Although inmates in jail do not need huge sums of money, they need to have some funds for various activities and necessities. This may range from the services offered in the facility to buying personal items. Inmates’ access to money in prison is limited, and the sources are not as much as they would have in the outside world.

Lucky inmates may get prison jobs where they may receive a few cents for work done; some have other in-prison illegal jobs such as selling drugs and prison hooch, prostitution, body-guarding, and gambling. However, most of them cannot do these businesses; instead, they rely heavily on their friends and families to send them money to survive in jail. 

Do inmates need money when in prison? Although they receive their daily meals, access to clean water, and a place to sleep, sometimes these items are not enough. Additionally, they need these funds for other services, particularly library and commissary services. According to some state laws, restitution and fines must be paid out of an inmate’s money. In other cases, inmates can use their funds to purchase items, only to have other inmates steal what they had bought.

What is a Commissary Store?

In a correctional facility, there is a commissary store where inmates can shop for various items using their money. The commissary frequently sells apparel, footwear, snacks, food, and hygienic items like soap, shampoo, and shavers. In some facilities, inmates can buy books, magazines, televisions, radios, cards, and other entertainment-related items at the commissary.

To ensure they can write to their families and friends, they can buy paper, envelopes, and stamps at this prison store. Although some prisons and jails give inmates a small number of stamps and paper for those who can’t afford it, not all do. Besides, the only way an inmate can truly enjoy commissary day is if money is in their account, which typically happens once a week.

During the orientation process in prison, the prison personnel must set up a commissary account for each inmate. This inmate also receives a password that only he/her/them can understand—the commissary account for the inmate functions inside the facility like a bank account.

How Can You Deposit Money to an Inmates Commissary Account

One can deposit money into an inmate’s commissary in various ways and channels, whether in the county, state, or federal prisons. However, you should note that the rules for sending the money may differ depending on the state and prison security levels.

Things to Consider When Sending Funds to An Inmate

When sending money to an inmate, it would be best to consider the following basic things:

Inmate’s Prison or Jail of Incarceration

If you don’t know where the inmate is incarcerated, you can visit your state’s Department of Corrections and perform an inmate search. If the inmate is in an unknown federal prison, you can visit the Federal Bureau of Prisons to conduct a prisoner lookup for free. For the inmates in county jails, you can visit the county’s Sheriff’s Department to locate the jail roster or call the office. 

Inmate’s Original or Name Under Which They Are Incarcerated

Inmates, especially those in the Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facilities, sometimes do not provide their actual names or are imprisoned with their original names when the facilities know them. Thus, to send money to them, you need to know their names.

You are responsible for ensuring that you send money to the right inmate in the right correctional facility. Thus, the jail is not responsible for errors leading to a wrong transfer. Your transaction can be declined if the information you supply is inaccurate, or worse still, the money might be transferred into the wrong account and not recovered.

Regulations and Modes of Sending Money

Different states have different rules that individuals can utilize to send money to inmates in prison. These rules are not universal and sometimes differ in the county, state, federal and private prisons. The specific procedure for the prisoner’s facility should be obtained before sending any money.

Check out the facilities page’s section on inmate funds and pay close attention to the facility’s regulations. Pay close attention to the facility’s money-sending policies, as some jails and prisons only permit transfers of up to $200, and whether or not you must be on the inmate’s visitation list to send money.

Thus, before sending money, you need to contact the state’s Department of Corrections, the sheriff’s office, or the Federal BOP to understand these rules.

How to Put Money on An Inmate’s Books at the Prison Lobby or Kiosk

Almost all prisons have a prison lobby or a kiosk. Typically, the lobby is the only place where you can deposit cash. This also deposits money directly into the inmate’s commissary account with no charges since you deposit cash directly. You must visit the prison or jail in person to complete the transaction using the lobby. 

Most prisons will also accept a postal money order addressed to the inmate and mailed to the institution’s address, but more and more states are converting to electronic banking. Friends and family can send money via electronic banking, and prison administrations are beginning to prefer this practice because it requires less work from staff, is more accurate and straightforward to monitor, and is more practical.

In addition, this method is the safest and fastest because you can receive all the rules for sending money in person and choose when and how often you can send money.

Utilizing MoneyGram to Send Money

You may transfer money online using MoneyGram’s ExpressPayment program. MoneyGram processes money daily, including weekends and holidays. Inmates receive these funds within 2-4 hours after funds are submitted between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. EST. On the other hand, funds submitted after 9:00 p.m. EST are posted the next morning at 7:00 a.m. EST.

The following details are very crucial when using MoneyGram:

The inmates’ account number is primarily their prisoner ID followed by their last name. When inputting the account number, you must ensure that you do not put a dash between the numbers or the last name, as they are all one thing. 

Again, ensure they are complete names when filling in the beneficiary’s name. The Receive Code is consistently 7932 for federal prisons. 

Send Inmate Money to a Local Agent

You can dial 1 (800) 926-9400 or visit to find a local agent. At the agent, you can provide cash or bankers’ cards. 

Send Inmate Money Online

Please go to and input the Federal Bureau of Prisons or get code 7932.

Enter the sending amount (up to $300) and the Receive Code (7932).

New users must create a profile and account. In addition, they must have a MasterCard or Visa credit card.

Transferring Money Using Western Union

You may electronically pay a prisoner using Western Union’s Quick Collect Program. Western Union, like MoneyGram, processes funds daily, including on weekends and holidays. Inmates also receive their funds within 2-4 hours upon submission between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. EST. On the other hand, the money submitted past 9:00 p.m. EST is posted the next morning at 7:00 a.m. EST.

When using Western Union, you can send the money online, via phone, or at a Western Union facility.

Western Union Branch

You can call 1-800-325-6000 or go to to find the local agent. You must fill out a payment form at the agent. You must include the form’s recipient account number or name, facility, and amount. Again, here you can use cash as a form of payment.

Send Inmate Money through Telephone

When calling 1-800-634-3422, you can choose option 2. Here you can transfer the money using a credit card or debit card.

Send Inmate Money Online

Visit for more information, then choose “Quick Collect.” You’ll need a credit card or debit card. Again, new users must set up an account quickly and for free.

Using The US Postal Service to Send Money

If you do not have other options or prefer mailing funds to a prisoner in jail, you may utilize the United States Postal Service. Unlike other transactions, mailing money to a prisoner using US Postal Services is very complicated; thus, carefully read and adhere to mailing instructions as per the facility.

You need to write down the inmates’ names or account numbers for federal inmates. Again, note that you can only mail money orders. This means you cannot send cash, personal checks, or attach any other item to reach an inmate in prison in the same mail as the one you are transferring the money to. The facility shall dispose of any other things. 

In addition, note that when using this method, non-government checks and money orders will have a 15-day hold applied.

On the mail, you have to include a returning address. This guarantees that the monies can be returned if they can’t be sent to the inmate’s account; your name and return address must be in the top left-hand corner of the envelope.

Transact Using JPay and Access Corrections 

Nowadays, many incarceration facilities, especially the State and Federal prisons, contract with JPay and Access Corrections to facilitate the transfer of money to inmates’ commissaries. You can send money quickly and securely from the comfort of your home computer, phone, or any MoneyGram agent location in the country. 

These are a quick and practical way to send money to your incarcerated loved one because the online system accepts credit cards for money transfer transactions. It works to make the money transfer process as simple as possible for you and your loved one who is behind bars. Your loved one will have quick access to the money whether you put it in a dedicated purpose account, a commissary, or a “spendable” trust account. Where allowed, you can send money to multiple prisoners at once and set up recurring payments.

You must set up an account to use either JPay or Access Corrections to send inmates money. By this, you can register your name and account details.