Help for Inmates Before, During and After Prison (2024)

How to Send an Inmate Money in Montana

Here are some general guidelines for sending money to an inmate's trust account; but not specific to a particular facility, institution or jail. Inmates need money to access several privileges like weekly shopping at the commissary, making phone calls, using the email service where offered, using the electronic tablets where offered and paying their co-pay when needing the medical or dental services. Some county jails require a per-night fee for the jail’s expenses.

What is a Commissary?

A commissary is a store within the jail. Commissary day is usually held once a week and can only be used if the inmate has funds in their commissary account, like a bank account within the institution. If the inmate has a job, their paycheck is deposited into this account, too.

The Commissary sells various products that the inmates may purchase if they have money on their books. Items sold are clothing, shoes, snacks and food, as well as hygienic products like soap, shampoo, and shavers. The commissary also sells products like books, magazines, televisions, radios, playing cards, headphones, MP3 players, electronic tablets, songs and educational programming. They also sell paper, envelopes, and stamps allowing the inmate to write their loved ones, friends and family. Facilities will provide stamps and paper to indigent inmates – eligible where no money has been in their commissary account for at least 30 days.

How do you send money to an inmate?

Sending money to an inmate varies from state to state, depending if it is county, state, or federal, their ways of accepting money for inmates change by the money transfer company they’ve contracted with. Federal Prisons and some state-level prisons have centralized banking systems which means that you do not need to know where they are specifically, just that they are in the state systems of for instance the California, Texas, Florida DOC, or the Federal BOP to name a few.

How do I send money using MoneyGram?

Some facilities will allow you to deposit cash through the lobby window stand-alone kiosk in the lobby or visitation room. Most facilities will also accept a postal money order mailed to the institution’s inmate mailing address made payable to the full inmate’s name.

Electronic banking allows friends and family members to send the funds online, and correctional departments are starting to favor this method because it is less work for staff and more accurate/easier to keep track of, as well as being more convenient.

Regardless of the method of sending funds, there are several key things you will need to know:
• Inmate’s full committed name
• Inmate’s ID number
• Inmate’s location – or a system like the federal BOP

Before sending any funds you should find out what online transfer companies the institution your inmate is incarcerated in uses. You can find this information on our site by navigating to the facilities page click on the Money Transfer button under the address and phone number.

Pay close attention to the rules of the facility. Sometimes they will require money senders to be on the inmate's visitation list. Some correctional facilities have a deposit limit, like $200-300 at a time, but in federal, there is no limit.

MoneyGram, JPay, OffenderConnect, AccessCorrections, JailATM, WU, Touchpayonline, tigercommissary, smartdeposit are some of the money transfer firms being used by various facilities. MoneyGram is by far the oldest and most trusted.

Who else can access the money you send?

An inmate with fines or restitution will be subject to commissary/trust account garnishment. If the inmate has these financial obligations, they will be extracted from the inmate’s bank account. It may be a percentage or the entire amount depending on the situation. We recommend inmates who are going into their bid contact the counselor and make an arrangement beforehand. If you go in knowing they are taking 20-25% of all deposits is better than having them take it all and you find out in the commissary line when the account is zero.

Why is my inmate asking for more than I normally send?

This is generally a signal that the inmate is doing something they shouldn’t and needs money to get them out of or through a situation. It could be gambling, it could be extortion it could be other things you don’t need to know on this forum (for now). Set boundaries with your inmate. Tell them that “this is the amount I can send each month” and that is it. There are no extras beyond the boundary. Also, NEVER send money to the account of another inmate on your inmate’s instruction. This is a sign that something is not right. If the corrections people discover this, and they do more times than not, it will result in some severe disciplinary action to the inmate, and certainly the loss of all privileges.

Who can I call if I suspect something?

We recommend speaking with the counselor or case manager of the facility and use a generic reference in the event that your suspicions are wrong. You needn’t put them in a more difficult position if they are.

Help for Inmates Before, During and After Prison (2024)


What are the 3 biggest challenges that inmates face when returning back to the community? ›

Once released, formerly incarcerated people face a myriad of barriers to successfully re-entering society. They are not allowed to vote, have little access to education, face scant job opportunities, and are ineligible for public benefits, public housing and student loans.

What provides assistance to inmates nearing release from prison? ›

The Federal Bureau of Prisons contracts with Residential Re-entry Centers (RRCs), also known as halfway houses, to provide assistance to inmates who are nearing release. RRCs provide a structured, supervised environment and counseling, job placement, and other services.

What are the three elements to successful reentry programs for inmates? ›

4 elements of successful reentry programs
  • Start reentry programs before release dates. ...
  • Provide fair treatment. ...
  • Make changes in the probation framework. ...
  • Implement evidence-based policies.
Mar 31, 2021

What is post-incarceration syndrome? ›

PICS is characterized by a range of psychological, emotional, and social difficulties that can arise as a result of being imprisoned, and these difficulties can make it more challenging for individuals to successfully reenter society and become productive members of the community.

Why do ex-prisoners struggle to successfully reintegrate into society? ›

Micro Challenges

Ironically, getting back to work decreases recidivism, but there are barriers for ex-convicts finding work. Many prisoners have limited education and work experience, which makes it difficult for them to secure employment after they are released.

What is gate money? ›

In California, a person leaving prison receives $200. This amount has stayed the same since 1973. In Texas, individuals on parole receive two $50 paper checks: one upon release and another when they meet their parole officer. In many states, people receive no money at all.

What is compassionate release in prison? ›

Compassionate release is the process by which those incarcerated may seek early release, whether to community supervision or to their communities, due to extraordinary or compelling circ*mstances.

How much money does a prisoner get when released? ›


If you are leaving a California state prison and you are (1) paroled, (2) placed on post-release community supervision (PRCS), or (3) discharged from a CDCR institution or reentry facility, you are entitled to $200 in state funds upon release.

What makes a reentry program successful? ›

As shown below, interventions must address health, employment, housing, skill development, mentorship, and social networks, as these factors have the most significant impact on reentry success.

What states have reentry programs? ›

Reentry Programs by State
  • Alabama Reentry Programs.
  • Alaska Reentry Programs.
  • Arizona Reentry Programs.
  • Arkansas Reentry Programs.
  • Business Sponsors.
  • California Reentry Programs.
  • Colorado Reentry Programs.
  • Connecticut Reentry Programs.

Why is prisoner reentry important? ›

When prisoners are released from prison, they are most vulnerable to fall into old patterns that can lead them to commit another crime. With proper social and healthcare services provided to former prisoners, the likelihood of re-offending is reduced, which benefits both the economy and public safety.

What are the most significant problems faced by prisoners upon reentry? ›

experience, low levels of educational or vocational skills, and many health-related issues, ranging from mental health needs to substance abuse histories and high rates of communicable diseases. When they leave prison, these challenges remain and affect neighborhoods, families, and society at large.

What is the first step program for prisoners? ›

(Last updated January 25, 2024) The First Step Act of 2018 (Public Law 115–391) created a system in which some incarcerated individuals can earn time credits for participating in recidivism reduction programming or productive activities. Time credits can later be applied towards early release from secure custody.

What are the three phases of reentry? ›

This is intended for your use to begin planning your journey through the 3 phases (Facility, Transition, Community) of reentry.

What are challenges do inmates face upon return to the community? ›

experience, low levels of educational or vocational skills, and many health-related issues, ranging from mental health needs to substance abuse histories and high rates of communicable diseases. When they leave prison, these challenges remain and affect neighborhoods, families, and society at large.

Which is a major challenge faced by prisoners during reentry? ›

Employment: Finding employment is often a significant challenge for former prisoners. The stigma associated with a criminal record can make it difficult to secure employment opportunities. Limited job skills or education may further hinder their reintegration into t.

What is the largest obstacle to successful prisoner reentry? ›

Explanation: The largest obstacle to successful prisoner reentry, as mentioned in the text, is difficulty finding employment. When individuals are released from prison, they often face challenges in securing stable employment due to their criminal records.


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