our everyday life

How to Write to a Prison Inmate in Arizona

by Ryn Gargulinski

Your friend is locked up, but you still want to write to him. If he happens to be in an Arizona state prison, part of the Arizona Department of Corrections, the task is not that difficult.

Find the inmate’s location. Visit the Arizona Department of Corrections website and go to the “Inmate Datasearch” option in the menu running down the left side of the screen. It’s under the “Most Visited” heading. Search for the person to whom you wish to write. Click the gender and “Active” in the search box, meaning the person is currently in prison.

Decode the information. Once you have the inmate’s file in front of you, look at the far-left column near the bottom. There you will see “Most Recent Loc,” which is where he is being housed. Let’s say it reads “ASPC Safford.” That means he’s in the Arizona State Prison Complex in Safford. Also note the inmate number, located under the photo box on the left, to include on the envelope. It’s a six-digit number.

Get the address for his location. Along the left side of the page, click on a heading called “Inmate Services.” Along the right side of the screen, headed “Inmate Family and Friends Liaison,” you'll find an option marked “ASPC Mailing Addresses.” Pick the one your dude is at.

Address the envelope as specifically as possible. Write legibly. Include the inmate number. A Safford example is: ASPC-Safford, John Doe ADC#123456, 896 S. Cook Rd., Safford, AZ 85546.

Keep it simple--and benign. Don’t try to send razor blades, weapons, plots to break out of prison, blueprints to homes you suggest he burgle once he’s out or anything else that may raise red flags. Everything you send will be opened and read by authorities. If it’s not appropriate, it will be discarded by authorities. Use some common sense here.

Tips

  • If you cannot find the person’s name in the inmate data search or need other questions answered, call Inmate Family and Friends Services at (602) 364-3945.
  • When in doubt about something, err on the side of caution and don’t send it. You can also call the number above to double-check specific items.
  • Photos are okay, but keep in mind people other than the recipient will be looking at them. Don’t send naked pictures.

Warnings

  • Don’t draw doodles all over the envelope. Keep it as plain and utilitarian as possible.
  • Don’t expect an immediate response. Massive delays can happen when sending things to any prison. After all, people have to sort through all the stuff to make sure nothing bad gets in.

About the Author

Master's in English lit. and bachelor's in creative writing from Brooklyn College. Journalist for papers in Arizona, New Mexico, California, Oregon and New York.

Photo Credits

  • Illustration by Ryn Gargulinski