July 9,

Helping Someone In Federal Prison

#2: Facilitate having your church or similar organization donate movies and other materials to the institution where your friend or loved one is confined.

Your friend or loved one in federal prison should have access to plenty of books, and they should also be able to receive new books shipped directly from Amazon or a similar company. It may also be possible for them to receive paperback books shipped directly from a private individual, but they will have to confirm whether that is acceptable at the institution where they are confined. What they won’t have much access to is media like DVD’s, as packages containing DVD’s are prohibited with one exception. A church or other religious organization can make a donation directly to the institution, and that donation can include movies and other programs on DVD, with some discretion. Here is how you can help:


  1. Determine the type of materials that you would like to have donated based on feedback from your friend or loved one. A DVD series, appropriate movies or some type of study program should be acceptable coming from a religious organization. There are some great programs out there. Be creative.
  2. Contact the prison and ask to speak to the Chaplain. Tell him or her that your religious organization would like to make a donation to the institution, and inquire about the process. You will likely need the fax number so you can prepare a letter to be sent to the Chaplain, or he or she may have a form that can be faxed to you. Once you send the information to the Chaplain, they will likely fax back to you an approval letter stating that the church can send the materials directly to the prison as a donation. The procedure may vary slightly, but this is the basic concept.
  3. Anyone can purchase the DVD’s or programs that you are sending in, but they must be shipped from and donated by the religious organization itself, not an individual. You may actually be the one who organizes the donation process on behalf of your organization, doing the research and buying the materials, but you will need to give them to the church so that the church can then donate them to the prison. Discuss the process with your pastor or other church leaders as needed.
  4. There is a limit to what the church can donate to the prison, and the limit is $250 per quarter. You may also be able to find other organizations who will make the donation directly from their similar faith oriented organization.
  5. All materials sent to the prison must be new originals in sealed packaging from the publisher.
  6. Once you have received approval from the Chaplain to send in the materials, and have gathered them and sent them to the prison with the required paperwork as necessary, make sure you notify your friend or loved one that the materials will be arriving at the institution. He or she will need to contact the Chaplain and make a request to have access to the materials once they arrive. The materials will be delivered to a shipping and receiving warehouse where they may sit for a significant period of time if an inmate does not inquire about them. Don’t send the materials in as a surprise! Make sure your friend or loved one knows to expect them and ask for them.
  7. The benefit to your friend or loved one will be very significant! He or she will likely coordinate with a group of fellow inmates to watch the movies together on a given movie night, or study the DVD series together or whatever might be possible based on the type of content your organization sends in. Whatever it is, it will be very much appreciated and a nice change from reading!

Kevin Boardman

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