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inmate at DOC

frequently Asked Questions​ about inmates

Are inmates allowed to make telephone calls?

Yes. Inmates are allowed to make telephone calls. They are given a choice of either making collect calls or paying for their calls through a debiting of their inmate account. All inmates are given an Inmate Personal Identification Number (IPIN), which allows the DOC to track all calls. An announcement is made at the beginning of each call made by the PA DOC that the call is from a state correctional institution. Prison personnel have the authority to restrict or suspend an inmate's phone privileges if they determine that there has been any abuse.
 

Are inmates allowed to have televisions?

Yes. Televisions are located in the common areas on the cellblocks. However, if they choose to have a television in their cell, inmates must purchase it themselves. There are only two televisions authorized for inmate purchase, both of which are 13-inch sets. All DOC cells are wired for cable. Inmates must pay for the cable if they choose to use it. The only programming available to them is standard cable package that includes channels such as ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, sports and educational channels. They are not permitted to watch any movies rated above PG-13 and do not receive certain shows with graphic adult content or violence-even if they are on a basic channel.
 

Are inmates allowed to have visitors?

Yes. Inmates must submit a list of potential visitors to prison personnel. Once prison personnel approve the list, only those individuals on the list can visit the inmate.

The policies of the DOC prohibit an inmate from having contact with the direct victim(s) of the crime he or she committed. If you are a victim of crime and the inmate appears to be violating this policy, contact OVA at 1.800.563.6399 to report it.
 

Are inmates allowed to mail letters?

Yes. Inmates are permitted to send and receive mail. The prison pays for 10 one-ounce letters each month for each inmate. All outgoing mail must contain the inmate’s name and inmate number as part of the return address. All incoming mail is examined for contraband, including cash, personal checks, drugs, and weapons. Legal mail sent to the inmate is opened in front of the inmate and examined by a correctional officer for contraband. If you are receiving mail from an inmate that you do not want to be receiving, please call OVA at 1.800.563.6399 and staff will discuss options with you.
 

Do inmates have access to the Internet or computers?

Inmates in state correctional institutions do not have access to the Internet. However, they do have access to computers through computer education classes and some work programs within the prison that require use of a computer.
 

Can inmates work while they are incarcerated?

Yes. On average, inmates can make between 19 cents and 51 cents an hour. The skill level needed to perform the job determines the exact pay. If inmates are not medically able to work or if there are no educational assignments available, they receive an allowance equal to 20 hours of work compensation per week.
 
Inmates do not receive cash directly. Any payment for work is deposited into an account maintained for them by the prison. They can request that money be transferred from their account to pay for legal bills and approved purchases.
 

Can victims know what treatment programs inmates have completed?

Yes. When an inmate enters the DOC, prison personnel determine what treatment programs would benefit that inmate. This is called a “correctional plan.” Prison personnel cannot force the inmate to comply with their prescriptive program but this information will be taken in consideration when the inmate is being considered for release.
 

How can I find out which prison an inmate is currently assigned?

You can find out which prison the inmate is housed in by clicking on the link below: