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How to Send Mail

The Department of Corrections (DOC) understands and stresses the importance of family members and friends staying in touch with incarcerated individuals. Receiving daily mail, other publications and packages is very important to inmates. Both incoming and outgoing mail and packages must follow rules designed to keep the inmates safe and help protect public safety.

The rules that apply to mail and incoming publications are specified in DOC policy DC-ADM 803. The rules in this document may change at any time and they should be reviewed regularly for any updates.

How to Address an Envelope/Letter to an Inmate

All letters/envelopes that are sent to an incarcerated individual MUST be addressed this way:

Inmate Name and DOC Number
SCI facility name
SCI facility address
City, State and Zip Code

Joseph Jones AB-1234
SCI Camp Hill
P.O. Box 200
Camp Hill, PA  17001-0200

The Inmate Locator will help determine which state correctional institution your loved one or friend is housed. A list of all the SCI mailing addresses is provided. (pdf) Please note that some SCIs have separate mailing addresses for inmates and DOC staff so review the list carefully to make sure you select the correct mailing address.

Mail Requirement for Inmates

All inmates are permitted to send and receive mail. Inmates may send up to eight one-ounce letters each month at no cost to the inmate. Mail can be sent to anyone EXCEPT: victims of your crime, inmates, former inmates, parolees, probationers, co-defendants, current or former DOC employees, current or former contract employees, current or former volunteers, anyone who has an active Protection from Abuse Order (PFA) against the inmate that prohibits such contact, or persons who have informed the DOC that they do not wish to receive mail from the inmate.

Inmates send mail by placing it in the collection boxes on their housing unit. A cash slip for the postage on the mail the inmate wants to send must be attached.

Incoming Mail

Incoming mail is processed by the DOC mailroom each week day, Monday- Friday, except holidays. It is distributed each day. Incoming mail must include a HANDWRITTEN return address or it will be refused. Self-stick return mailing labels ARE NOT permitted. All incoming ~ and outgoing ~ mail must include the inmate’s name, DOC number, and complete SCI mailing address, or the letter will be returned.

EXCEPTION: Outgoing mail addressed to the Pennsylvania State Police BCI/PREA Coordinator, 1800 Elmerton Avenue, Harrisburg, PA 17110 is NOT required to have the inmate name or number on the envelope.

The Pennsylvania State Police has asked that anyone making a report include their name and number in THE BODY OF THE LETTER so they can identify and communicate with the person making the allegation.

Incoming mail may contain copies of internet pages, news clippings, articles, print-outs, or material from social networking, social media, or internet sites as long as it complies with the DOC's rules. The content of all such pages received will be reviewed.

Incoming mail CANNOT have cash, money orders, personal checks, or any type of valuable item (such as an autographed item by a professional athlete). It will be treated as contraband and held pending any grievance or appeal by the inmate about its status. A Notice of Unacceptable Correspondence will be sent to the inmate, DOC security, and the sender if known. The prohibited items will be handled through the grievance process or as policy

A certified check may only be received as part of a legitimate business transaction. A DC-1306, Cash Transaction Receipt will be issued for all certified checks received through the mail as part of a legitimate business transaction. The check will be forwarded to the facility business manager and the money deposited into the inmate's account.

All mail sent to every inmate is opened and checked for contraband. Stamps may be removed to inspect for contraband. DOC may read mail sent to the inmate if DOC has reason to believe it is being used to plan an escape, other illegal activity, a misconduct offense, or in connection with a DOC investigation.


Packaging considered unacceptable because of security concerns includes: Tyvek, plastic, padded, or cardboard envelopes or boxes. These types of materials are NOT permitted. The items will be removed from the original packaging and placed in an envelope.

Hard plastic or metal binding is NOT permitted and will be removed prior to being sent to the inmate.

Greeting Cards

Inmates may receive greeting cards. However, the envelope can only be white. No yellow, blue, pink, etc. colors are permitted.

Threatening or Obscene Material

NO threatening materials, obscene material, or picture-explicit sexual material, picture nudity, contraband, material containing a criminal solicitation, material describing or planning a criminal plan or of a misconduct offense may be contained in the mail or placed on the envelope. This type of mail/envelope will be opened by DOC, returned to the sender, or disposed of at the inmate's expense.

Magazines, Newspapers and Other Publications

Inmates are permitted to receive magazines and newspapers. They must be sent from the publisher directly to the inmate. You are not permitted to receive materials that threaten the security of the facility. Examples include: information about making explosives, firebombs, weapons, escape devices, alcohol, poisons, or drugs.

Publications that advocate overthrowing the government, which create a threat in a correctional setting, contain racially inflammatory material or support, ask, or further a criminal plan or a misconduct offense are NOT allowed.

Inmates may not receive maps that would assist planning an escape or other criminal activity.

Inmates may not receive photographs containing nudity, obscene, or explicit sexual material.


Any form of identification received at the SCI in the mail service will be confiscated and secured for all inmates in the SCI business office. All forms of ID secured there will be given to the inmate on his/her day of release. A confiscation slip will be forwarded to the inmate and the inmate’s counselor.