I bet you didn’t think a simple phone call to a friend or loved one, could turn out to become a thing of luxury or privilege.

Perhaps for you, calling your friends or loved ones was something you often did and considered no stress at all because there wasn’t a limitation as to when to call that person! However, suddenly, you’re faced with a problem, you can no longer call and talk to that friend or family the way you used, because that friend, that loved one is now incarcerated.

how to call a loved one in prison

Communicating With A Loved One In Prison

When you have a friend or loved one in jail or prison communication with the person is drastically limited and is at the liberty of the prison officials to grant your request for a call or not.

Once in prison, such a friend or loved one is told when to eat, drink, sleep and communicate with visitors, so you can’t just pick your phone and call them.

Can You Call A Person In Prison?

Let me tell you a secret- the harsh reality is that you can never call an inmate, they’re the ones to call you.

Can You Pass A Message To Someone In Prison?

I have seen most people making the mistake of calling the facility while asking officials to pass a message across to their inmate. However, the truth is such will never happen as prison officials will under no circumstance relay your message to an inmate (such requests often cause them to flare up). Therefore, wait until your inmate calls you. 

The question then is when will the inmate call you? Now this is a tricky question. A person that just got arrested can be allowed to call after the booking process is completed, but if such a person has already been sentenced, it may take a while before they are allowed to call anyone. Sadly, this is the plight of inmates.


Gone are the days when inmates were locked up, and released when they’re done serving their sentence. Correctional facilities these days embark on a rehabilitation of inmates and try to make them more productive to the society at the end of their sentence.

This means the inmate leaves the prison a changed person. To successfully rehabilitate inmates, correctional facilities ensure they go through a thorough medical, physical and psychological examination during intake.

The intake and classification process oftentimes takes a day to several weeks during which in this period, inmates are not allowed to receive visitors or make calls.

This process helps the facility to test and observe the inmates before they’re classified into the proper category where the right treatment for the rehabilitation process is given to the inmates.


There are several reasons that affect an inmate’s ability to make phone calls. They include:


Remember, inmates can not just pick up the telephone and call whenever and whoever they want, there is a time set by the facility when inmates are allowed access to make calls.

I know of facilities that allow calls between the hours of 8am-11pm, but this varies among facilities. Also, inmates are not allowed to make calls until the morning roundup and count takes place and should there be problems regarding this, making phone calls will be delayed until such a problem is resolved. Periods of lockdown is a no no for phone calls.

Inmates can only make outgoing calls, as incoming calls are prohibited. The normal method of calling is by collecting calls through prepaid phone accounts setup by third party vendors.

Here are some companies that provide phone services to Inmates:


You will only be able to receive calls from your inmate when you’re on their approved telephone list (as required by some facilities).

When an inmate is incarcerated, they’re allowed to submit a list of phone numbers that they can make calls to, so if your number isn’t on that list, sorry you won’t be eligible to receive any call. However, the good news is that you can still get on that list! How? When next you write a letter to your inmate, include your number in it. 

Fortunately, some states like Texas, already put up a website where you can register your number to be on the facility’s approved list.

Not all facilities will require you to be on their approved list, however that is not a guarantee, as you can still encounter problems on the long run.

Why Can’t I Receive A Call From A Friend In Prison?

A common reason why you cannot receive phone calls from your inmate is because over there at the facility, they make only collect calls which you can’t receive with your cell phone. Therefore, to be able to receive this type of call, you must establish a prepaid account through one of the companies mentioned above. 

Another reason you may not be able to receive calls is if you’re unaware that your telephone service provider has blocked your number from receiving collect calls.

It could also be as a result of a three-way calling or call waiting feature unknowingly activated on your phone. Call waiting will cause calls being received to drop while with three-way calling, the call won’t even go through.

Note that all calls are monitored and recorded, therefore, you should be careful not to discuss subjects on crimes the inmate may be accused of, as it could lead to additional charges that can keep the inmate longer behind bars.


A very simple way of reducing the cost of inmate calls is by limiting the amount of time you spend on the phone talking with your friend or loved ones, as well as frequency of the calls.

I know this isn’t easy for you, as you would even prefer a situation where you wish you could be left alone to talk all day with that friend or loved one.

You can help inmates by constructing a list of what you want to talk to him or her about, so you don’t end up discussing things that are unnecessary, helping you to maximize the most of your talk time.

It is advisable to make one long call in a week than several short calls in a day as the latter is cheaper, while the former is more expensive owing to the connection fee charged for inmate calls.

I have come across many people who make calls using the aforementioned companies, complain of being charged exorbitant prices. However, this cost can be reduced by having a number that is local to the institution.

Long-distance calls made using the companies mentioned above is what makes calls expensive, therefore if you can get a local number, it’ll go a long way in reducing cost.

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