Visiting, Telephone, E-Mail and Correspondence

The BOP encourages visiting to help inmates maintain morale and ties with family members, friends, and others in the community. Inmates are permitted face-to-face visits with approved family and friends, and confidential visits with attorneys.

Each institution schedules visiting hours, and inmates receive this information during the orientation process so they can advise family members and others as to how and when they can visit. Institutions may restrict visitation based on security concerns. See visiting information.


The BOP extends telephone privileges to inmates to help them maintain ties with their families and other community contacts. Ordinarily, the inmate pays for the calls; but in some cases the receiving party pays. Limitations and conditions may be imposed upon an inmate’s telephone privileges to ensure they are consistent with the BOP’s correctional management responsibilities. A notice is posted next to each telephone advising inmates that calls are monitored. Unmonitored calls to attorneys are permitted in certain circumstances. Third-party or other alternative call arrangements are not permitted; this ensures inmates do not have the opportunity to use phones for criminal or other inappropriate purposes.

Electronic Messaging (E-mail)

The BOP allows inmates housed at institutions operating the Trust Fund Limited Inmate Computer System (TRULINCS) access to electronic messaging. Electronic messaging through the use of e-mail allows for text only correspondence in a secured manner between inmates and the general public. In order to maintain security and the good order of our institutions, electronic messages are subject to monitoring. See e-mail information and FAQ. In order to email individuals, they have to be on your approved visitors list.

Written Correspondence

The BOP encourages inmates to write to family, friends, and other community contacts to maintain these ties during incarceration. Inmate correspondence is classified as either “general” or “special” mail. “General correspondence” is opened and inspected by staff for both contraband and content that might threaten the security or good order of the institution. Incoming “special mail” is opened only in the presence of the inmate and is inspected for physical contraband and the qualification of any enclosures as special mail. The Program Statement on Correspondence should be consulted for a detailed discussion of “general” and “special” mail procedures.

Inmates may also receive certain commercial publications from the community. The BOP permits an inmate to subscribe to or receive publications without prior approval as long as the incoming publication is not detrimental to the security, discipline, or good order of the institution, or facilitate criminal activity.