How to Find Out Who an Inmate is Calling

In the US, inmates are not allowed to receive calls. They can only make outgoing ones. Some facilities impose a limit on how many minutes of calls an inmate can make each month. Others let them call whenever they want as long as they don’t hog the phone to themselves.

A prisoner handing out a phone from behind prison bars.

If your loved one is inside one of these prison facilities, it is but natural to want to know who they’re calling. After all, you don’t want them to end up talking to people who might be a bad influence on them. Or if you’re in a romantic relationship an inmate, you’d want to find out early on if they’re cheating on you.

So how do you know who an inmate is calling?

To that, there is no definite answer. But one thing is for sure, it won’t be easy. It might even take some detective skills on your part. First, let’s refresh our knowledge of inmate call policies.

Who Can an Inmate Call?

Though inmates are allowed to make outside calls, they can’t just call whoever they want. Policies vary per facility but one common rule is that inmates have to register the people they want to call. Then the prison staff will confirm the number and approve it. This is to prevent inmates from calling people they legally shouldn’t (like their victim or a co-conspirator).

Some facilities allow up to twenty-five people on an inmate’s calling list. It can be a mobile or landline number. Calls to out-of-state and international numbers are usually more expensive than local ones.

Three-way calling and call forwarding, however, are definitely not allowed. Inmates who are caught doing this usually lose their phone privileges. The warden may even send them to solitary confinement.

Making calls to people who are not on their registered calling list is, of course, not allowed. For jails who have contracts with private jail call companies, the system is automated. If an inmate tries to call unapproved numbers, the system will recognize it and blocks the call.

So if you want to know who an inmate usually calls, one valuable source of information is their calling list. Obtaining a copy of it is another matter altogether. You can simply ask the inmate. If that doesn’t work, make a formal request to the facility. Some facilities will require a court order or subpoena before releasing an inmate’s calling list. All requests are evaluated by the prison administrator in coordination with the inmate’s legal counsel.

Jail Call Monitoring

As part of the security protocol, all inmate calls are monitored and recorded except for calls to the inmate’s attorney. But the inmate has to apply for the appropriate permission first.

Is it possible to get a copy of the recorded inmate conversations?

The policies vary per state. California, in particular, has a Public Records Act (PRA). This law states that recorded jail calls may be made available to the public unless a specific provision of the Act or another law says otherwise. Other states might not allow members of the public to access such records.

How to Make Cheap Jail Calls

Jail calls in the US are one of the most expensive in the world. Some inmates pay up to $17 for a 15-minute call. To help inmates and their families, JailAid was founded.

We offer an extensive resource on how to make cheap jail calls, prison postcards, and other prison services. You can also use our database of prison support groups to find one near you. We also have an inmate locator to help you find an inmate wherever they are in the country.

About Judy Ponio

Judy Ponio has written plenty of articles about prison in the United States and how it affects the prisoners and their families. She continues to write in the hopes of bettering the lives of inmates all over the country.

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