Inmate Phone Calls - What Should You Expect?

Updated on 2/14/2023

There are more than 2.3 million people held in various forms of jail and prison worldwide. With many people behind bars, one of the only things that allow them some relief, if only for a moment, is connecting with family and friends through phone calls.

Inmate phone calls aren’t typical. There is a process they have to go through before receiving their first phone call. Are you unsure of what to expect when your loved one attempts to call you?

Below, we have gone over everything you need to know about inmate phone calls.

There Isn’t a Set Time

While we’d love to say there’s a set time each week your loved one will call, there are several factors that could change that, including where they’re imprisoned. For example, if someone has been arrested within the last few hours, chances are they’ll be able to place a call while they’re in the holding area before being booked into the jail.

However, if they’ve already been sentenced to serve time, there is another separate process they’ll have to go through before they can start placing and accepting calls. Remember, each facility has a specific time when inmates are free to make calls.

This can change depending on whether or not inmates are on lockdown, or if your loved one has been placed in solitary confinement as a consequence of misbehaving while in their holding pod. Prison phone calls can only be made from within the facility.

There is never a time when you’re able to call the jail or prison. This means it’s a waiting game, and you’ll need to be close to your phone to ensure you don’t miss the phone call.

It Can Take Some Time

After being booked into the facility, or sentenced, the inmate will undergo an intake process. This process will include these exams:

  • Medical
  • Physical
  • Psychological

After these examinations are conducted, the findings will be placed in the inmate’s file. However, the intake process differs depending on the facility, and it can either be a quick, or lengthy, process.

Until the intake and assessment periods are complete, the inmate cannot receive any visits from loved ones and friends, nor can they make any phone calls. The inmate also is not able to receive any mail until they’ve made it through the entire intake process.

What Can You Do?

While you can’t make calls to the facility where an inmate is housed, there are some things you can do to prepare for the incoming call. We recommend you use a service like Pigeonly.

Phone services like these make it possible for you to create an account and add funds to it that can be used for future phone calls. After you set up this account, you can enjoy your phone call without worrying about being charged crazy rates to talk.

Another thing you can do to prepare for your incoming call is to speak with your phone provider. Depending on the provider you have, the incoming calls might be blocked. After speaking with your provider, you should be able to ensure your calls will come through.

Last, don’t attempt to three-way call when you’ve accepted a call from an inmate. Attempting a three-way call can cause you to drop the phone call altogether.

Now that you’ve got a deeper understanding of what to expect during a prison phone call, here’s a guide that will help you start communicating with your loved one sooner rather than later.

Get on the List

The first step in accepting prison phone calls is getting on the list of people that the inmate can call. To do this, most facilities will require the inmate to send paperwork to you.

Once you’ve completed the paperwork, you can send it back to the prison for review. Whether they accept or deny the application, you’ll receive paperwork about their decision.

If the inmate can’t send you the paperwork, you can always check the online portal for the facility or call, and the administrative staff will be able to point you in the right direction.

Set Up Your Account

Once you’ve been approved to be added to the inmate’s contact list, you can set up your account as mentioned above. This account will require you to input your personal information and add funds used for the inmate’s phone calls.

It’s essential that you take the time to review the services provided by your phone provider, because you may find you’re able to gain access to more than just phone calls. Providers like Pigeonly provide several ways to connect with inmates at one low price.

Get Ready to Chat

Now that you’ve taken all the necessary steps, it’s time to get ready for your first call. When you take the call, remember the phone service will give you cues letting you know how much time you have left.

When the call comes in, you’ll hear a prerecorded message alerting you of the call and telling you which button to press to accept it.

Inmate Phone Calls: What to Expect & How to Receive Them

There are several ways to receive inmate phone calls, but you’ve got to have an account, and have funds for the calls to be made. The first step in accepting calls from an inmate is to complete the paperwork and be added to their call list.

If you’ve been accepted and are looking for a call provider that will allow you to speak with an inmate without breaking the bank, contact Pigeonly. We understand that spending time apart can be challenging, but there’s more than one way to stay connected.