Top 10 things you can do to help a loved one or friend who is in prison.
#6 Make a financial contribution to help pay for commissary & communication expenses
Federal prison is expensive if remaining connected to family and friends and growing in positive and healthy ways is a priority. The financial cost for an inmate to overcome existence as warehoused property of the government can quickly burden those at home who are likewise trying to survive the incarceration period. I am very fortunate to have strong support from family and friends who are helping to stabilize my wife and kids in my absence. If you have been following this prison blog, I have tried to offer some creative things that you can do to help others, primarily in inexpensive ways, but ultimately money issues are very real in these prevailing circumstances.
Your loved one or friend is a good person who made some mistakes, and that person will certainly emerge from this as an even better person because of your love and support during this difficult season in their life. It is natural that you desire to send them something, like food or a care package, but the government ensures all such goods in the inmates possession are acquired through its own commissary system. As a result, sending money to his or her commissary and communication account is the best way to help them acquire some basic tangible goods. The only exception to this is the ability to receive some paperback books or magazines via mail or through a service like Amazon.com. No other goods may be received from the outside, only books and magazines.
I make the suggestion of sending money as a way to help your loved one or friend because I am grateful and inspired by my own family and friends who have reached out and specifically asked how they can do this for me, knowing that we are going through a difficult time. This financial thoughtfulness helps support necessities like trying to eat healthy, and also encompasses helping to cover the cost of communication like emailing, buying stamps and calling home to remain active in family life.
For some perspective, this blog post will cost me $1.50 to type and email for posting. I will call home tonight and pay $0.90 to talk to my wife and kids for 15 minutes, which is in addition to the $10.00 per month fee for that service. Some additional random costs from commissary are as follows:
Pair of shoes $64.95
Dental Floss $1.70
Cough Syrup $3.60
Laundry Soap $6.15
Instant Coffee $6.20
Eating Utensils $1.30
I have chosen to work full-time teaching GED math while in prison. My earlier post on this subject discusses that in further detail, but my compensation for this effort is $22.44 per month. It is easy to see the exceptional value of the gift of money, so if you are looking for a simple way to help your friend or loved one who is in prison, this is an important thing you can do to help. Here is how:
- Go to www.bop.gov to determine your loved one or friend’s BOP registration number. It is an eight digit number in the following format using my registration number as an example: 71475-066.
- Obtain a Money Order from the U.S. Post Office using cash for the amount that you want to send to your friend or loved one. The cost for the Money Order is typically $1.25. Include the inmates full committed name AND complete eight-digit registration number on the Money Order. NOTE: Non-postal Money Orders and non-government checks will be placed on a 15-day hold when they are received by the Bureau of Prisons, so it is best to send a Money Order issued by the U.S. Post Office.
- Mail the Money Order to the BOP using the following address format:
Federal Bureau of Prisons
Kevin N. Boardman
Post Office Box 474701
Des Moines, Iowa 50947-0001
- The funds will be deposited into the inmates account and he or she will be able to direct them into their email, telephone and commissary accounts as desired to pay expenses.
You can be certain that the money you send to your loved one or friend will be compassionately appreciated, as it is literally a survival tool from which he or she will benefit each and every day.