I thought I’d share my opinions on some of the best and worst companies that cater to inmates. If you have a friend or family member just starting out in prison, these are the companies I’d suggest you use or avoid. These are just my personal opinions. Others may disagree.
There is a helpful book available on Amazon called “Inmate Shopper”. I disagree with many of its reviews and ratings. However, having the addresses and descriptions for so many prisoner services companies is well worth the $24 for the book.
I’ve spent lots of money on practically every company that has advertised in Prison Legal News since 2009, so my opinions are probably pretty accurate — just sayin’
PEN PAL WEBSITES
Legitimate companies that used to have good results but no longer do include:
-Inmate Classified (Inmate.com)
-InmateConnections.com (aka conpals)
I’d avoid all the rest. I used to get 10-20 new penpals per year using these companies. Now I’m lucky if I get one letter. Things have changed. Either nobody is looking for prison penpals any longer, or so many inmates have signed up that it diluted the market. Either way, don’t expect much from these sites.
-Girls And Mags
This company offers pen pal ads and addresses of hundreds of women. I wrote over 100 letters, and got only one reply. Most were invalid addresses. Not worth the money and time.
-3G PenPal Magazine
Filled with ads and addresses for penpals. Most of the addresses and ads are phony. A waste of time and money.
-TFL Pen Pals
Lots of promises. Zero results.
They have the best prices on used books, but someone will need to order online. Many books are around $3 and there’s free shipping . Almost any title imaginable is in stock.
-Edward R. Hamilton (Bargain Books) Inmates can write to them and request a print catalog. This company is as honest as they come, and their shipping and order processing is fast and reliable. Order as many books as you like for a flat shipping cost of just $3.50 for the entire order.
(things like internet research, help with google searches, help with online shopping, help with creating websites or email accounts, etc)
An honest, reliable company, with fast and friendly service. They are more expensive than most, but by far the best in the business.
-Prisoner Inmate Family Services
Another honest company. Service is slightly slower, quality of their work is slightly less, but if you’re on a budget, they would be the best company to use. They are very fair and will often go above and beyond for the inmate.
-A Book You Want (Barbara Nagle)
Fewer services offered, but she’s been in business for years and has always treated me right. She is fair, honest, and offers great service. Legitimately wants to help inmates. Learn more at ABookYouWant.com
These guys are the very worst. Avoid them at all costs.
-EPS (Elite Prisoner Services)
They were OK back in 2010, but their service became way too slow. Not days, not weeks, but months. They are in Appleton, Wisconsin, and also go by the name Elite Paralegal Services
This company took $300 of my money and disappeared. I believe they are no longer in business, but if you see any company owned by Holly Sandberg, I’d suggest not doing business with them.
SEXY NON-NUDE PHOTOS
The fastest service and best quality photos.
-R. Hughson (Ramondo Hughson)
Quality is good, not great. Service is fast. Prices are the lowest anywhere. Great variety to choose from.
These guys are trustworthy, with fast service, and an incredible variety of magazines (both subscription and single-issue can be purchased). Some of the single issue magazines are the most fascinating to read, and many are from Europe and are hard to find. They aren’t the cheapest company, but they are the best.
-Tightwad Magazines (and Julie’s Gifts)
Their variety has dwindled lately, but Tightwad offers great prices and helpful service.
-Books N Things
They offer a catalog with some magazines, some gifts, and lots of books. They have a huge selection of manga, but their books are overpriced. They also offer a gift catalog which is also very overpriced. I have used them for a a magazine subscription, though, and it was processed promptly and professionally. Their $3 catalog is fun to read, though, and worth the money, even if you never purchase anything.
-Inmate Magazine Service (IMS.com)
They offer 6 subscriptions for just $26.99, which is an amazing price. BUT….you might wait 7-8 months to begin receiving your first issue, and the company has horrific customer service. They will eventually deliver the magazines, but do you really want to be waiting around for almost a year wondering if you just lost $26? I don’t.
If you have questions about these or other companies not listed here, feel free to ask. I’ll give my honest opinion. I’ve wasted a lot of money so you don’t have to 🙂