Inmates incarcerated within the Federal Bureau of Prisons have access to the Trust Fund Limited Inmate Computer System (TRULINCS) which, among other functions, permits inmates to email with authorized members of the community.
TRULINCS Inmate Email System
This system, which is externally connected to the website Corrlinks.com, allows federal inmates to email with up to 30 approved contacts through the scaled-down, and heavily monitored, service.
The process is fairly simple. The prisoner adds the email address for their community contact into their TRULINCS contact list. This results in a system-generated email being sent to the email address. This email advises the community contact that the inmate has requested to email with them and that they need to go to Corrlinks.com and input a code, which is contained within the email, in order to activate the account. Once activated, both the community contact and the inmate can email with one another.
Unlike traditional email, the TRULINCS Public Messaging function is more like a personal electronic message board. While the prisoner can send emails to the community contact via TRULINCS computer consoles in their housing units, the community contact must log into their Corrlinks.com account in order for them to receive or send emails. Messages will not be delivered to their regular email inbox.
Other restrictions also apply. Emails are limited to plain, black text. Attachments and other media are not permitted. Messages can only be 13,000 characters long (around 2,000 words), although there is no limit to the number of messages that can be sent or received and each new message restarts the character count.
While most forms of speech are of no consequence, email monitors have been known to balk at overly sexual messages or content that would otherwise be rejected if contained in regular postal mail.
There are also a few timing restrictions. Messages are delayed for around an hour, inbound and outbound, in order to permit prison staff to monitor in real time. Some prisoners are placed on SIS Monitoring which slows down inbound messages even more due to SIS officials having to approve each individual email. This differs from the traditional one-hour hold which automatically expires and results in the delivery of the message. Also, depending on the prison in question, prisoners are only permitted to use the Public Messaging function of TRULINCS for either 30 minutes or one hour at a time. They then must log off for 30 minutes before they can log back on. This enables equal access to the service.
In terms of costs, this service is free for community contacts to use, but it does cost inmates $0.05 per minute when reading or composing emails. This cost is paid by the prisoner through the purchase of TRU-Units from funds in their trust fund account. Regardless of the added cost, and largely due to the technological age that Americans now live in, this service really appears to have done wonders when it comes to connectivity and helping prisoners stay in contact with friends, family, and, most importantly, their children.
Not all prisoners are eligible to use the TRULINCS computers, but most are. While some federal prisons have restricted certain sex offenders from using the service (e.g., prisoners who’s criminal conduct included the use of email), this appears to be the exception to the rule. Even if you are incarcerated for a child pornography possession offense you should still be authorized to use the service. If denied, you have the right of review through the Inmate Administrative Remedy Program.
While most prisoners use TRULINCS Public Messaging, only those with extra funds really have the opportunity to truly avail themselves of it due to the added cost. Regardless of this, many prisoners find that a quick email or two a day is less expensive than the cost of a First Class letter, not to mention much easier on family and friends outside of prison.
If you head over to the Corrlinks’ FAQ page, you can learn how to set email alerts so that you will receive an email alert advising you to login to retrieve a new message. Do note that this sometimes seems to deactivate, so if you haven’t heard from an incarcerated contact in some time, login anyways to see if you have messages waiting for you. The Corrlinks service is notorious for being filled with bugs and other types of problems.
The Corrlinks.com premium service, which is offered for a nominal fee, allows you to use your smart phone to use Corrlinks, along with a few added services such as an extended period of time for the message purge function to go into effect (i.e., you will be able to see past messages for a longer period of time).
You can email with more than one federal prisoner through Corrlinks. The email system’s FAQ page shows you how to handle such situations. It’s much like the first time when you inputted the initial activation code.
The only time or messaging limitations are applied to the federal prisoner, who has to pay to read and respond. On their end they are usually only permitted to email for 30 minutes to one hour at a time, but can log off for half-an-hour and then log back on to continue.
Some states require those outside of prison to pay for the use of Corrlinks. This is because the system is owned by the Advanced Technologies Group (ATG), which is a private company that relies on government contracts in order to operate. As a result, prisoners and their families are subject to the terms of the contract that each prison system signs with ATG. Naturally, customer service for the end users (i.e., prisoners and their outside contacts) are not a priority. Instead, the true customers for ATG are the prison systems that sign contracts with the firm.
Abusing the TRULINCS Public Messaging function can result in disciplinary action. This is most often seen by prisoners asking their outside contacts to forward messages to or from them. While Federal Bureau of Prisons officials would never know if a message was forwarded, it is best to not discuss such things in an email. Likewise, if you every send a message to a federal prisoner from someone else, it is best to present it as your own message, not that of an unauthorized contact.
Contact us for more information on the TRULINCS inmate email system.