Do you know someone who is currently spending their days in a New York State Penitentiary or Jail? If you would like to write a letter to them or send them mail, you can.

If you don't know which prison they are located in or how to track them down, you can search for them through the New York State Prison System, more on how to do that below.

How you can write to a prisoner in a New York State Jail?

Rattankun Thongbun./Getty Stock / ThinkStock
Rattankun Thongbun./Getty Stock / ThinkStock

It is completely legal for you to write to a prisoner who is housed in a New York State facility. There are a few things that you will need to know to make sure that the mail reaches them. When you address the letter you will need to have the following info on the outside of the envelope or package:

  • The prisoner's first and last name
  • The prisoner's Department Identification Number (DIN)
  • Your return address
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What can you include in your letters to a New York State Prisoner?


Inside the envelope, you can include things like written correspondence along with photos. You are limited to no more than 5 pages of paper in any one letter. Also, know that your letters could be reviewed by the facility before they are given to the prisoner.

What can you not mail to a prisoner in New York State?

prison bars
Getty Images/iStockphoto

According to the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, you cannot mail the following items to a person who is in a New York State facility:

  • Nude Photographs
  • Polaroid Photos
  • Postage Stamps
  • Letters from other people, except children

How can you find out where the person you are wanting to correspond with is housed? Click here for the NYSDOCC search. 

WOW! These are the most violent prisons in New York State 😲

New York released a report with the most recent number of violent assaults on inmates in state prisons. There were 134 inmate deaths noted in the report, although it doesn't break down the prisons where each death occurred or who caused them. Here's a look at some of the general violent incidents reported for 2020, which is the most recent data reported by the state. Compared to 10 years ago, inmate assaults have almost doubled. In 2011 there were 666 and in 2020 there were 1,205 reported. These numbers do not include inmate assaults on staff members. Overall, the number of unusual incidents includes things like assaults, deaths, accidents, sexual misconduct, and disruptive behavior.  According to the state,
"The number of unusual incidents has increased 132% from 5,980 in 2011 to 13,870 in 2020. These higher incident numbers were largely due to increases in assaults on incarcerated individuals (+81%), assaults on staff (+86%), contraband (+130%), disruptive behavior (+372%), and staff use of weapons (+1,035%)."
  In 2020, 1,836 weapons used to cut or stab, including ice picks, razor blades, can lids and shanks were discovered in state prisons around New York.

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