The laws regarding sending money to an inmate require remitting the funds to the prison's processing facility, according to the Bureau of Prisons. The staff disburses the money to the inmate's account. Methods vary, but mailing a check or money order, electronic funds transfer, and MoneyGram are commonly used.
Sending funds through the mail is different depending on the prison network in which the inmate is held. Federal prisoners may only receive money orders through the mail, notes the Bureau of Prisons. However, in some states, checks are also acceptable. However, the staff may hold the checks and then wait for a period of time after deposit to release the funds. In California, the staff holds checks for 30 days before depositing them and then holds the funds in the prisoner's account for 30 more days, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Electronic funds transfers from a bank are permitted in some states such as California, notes the CDCR. The federal system allows the use of Western Union and MoneyGram to send money to inmates. It's important to check the policies for the prison system in which an inmate lives before sending the money. The inmate's name and identification number within the prison system should appear on all checks, money orders and other documentation, notes the CDCR.