There are several ways to show that you care and are thinking about incarcerated loved ones during Christmas 2018. One of the major ways is to send Christmas gifts. But, when behind bars, not all gifts are allowed. This is especially true when your family or friend is housed far away, so far their prison visits are scarce.

Who is Renee Patterson?

Renee Patterson Writes eBooks to, for and about prison loved ones. Her stories are about prison wives, fiances, girlfriends, mothers, daughters, husbands, sons and rivals. Some of her eBooks are intriguing and filled with mystery and crime, while others are more dramatic, with stories about abandonment issues, lies, seduction and infidelity.

[amazon_link asins=’B0082EQAAK’ template=’ProductAd’ store=’′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’fdd8e28e-c667-11e7-a4b9-c5e23f46697f’] On the personal side, Renee Patterson is also a dedicated prison daughter, sister, niece and cousin. A one time prison fiance to what used to be her best friend, she understands the thoughtfulness and creativity that goes with emotionally supporting an imprisoned friend or family member.

We asked this advocate for prison loved ones to give our audience some tips on things to buy prison inmates for Christmas in 2018. She gave us some tips, based on what she knows as a prison loved one of the CDCR (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation) system:

“We all love gifts. And, prisoners behind bars love them more even more. Inmates are consoled by the fact that family and friends keep them in their thoughts. Sending them gifts during the holiday season, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s, shows them that you truly care.”

Renee’s 5 Favorite Christmas Gifts to Send Imprisoned Loved Ones

Renee says that there are restrictions on the kind of gifts you can send to your incarcerated loved ones for Christmas and other holidays and occasions. But, she did recommend these five gifts that are generally acceptable in most US prison facilities:

1. Put Money on Their Books as Christmas Gifts

money magnifying glassPrison inmates are able to buy personal items they need from the prison commissary or store or canteen (it goes by many names). Some of these items may include:

  • Tampons for female inmates
  • Food
  • Drinks
  • Cigarettes (not in CDCR)
  • Writing material
  • Stamps
  • Toiletries
  • Various other personal goods

They are also able to purchase certain premium services such as:

  • Email use
  • Phone calls
  • Video messaging
  • Other special privileges

In some cases, inmates are not able to earn “livable” income while incarcerated. So, most count on their prison loved ones to send them money. Put money on their books for use during Christmas time and during the holiday season.

2. Subscription to Prison News Publications as Christmas Gifts

Buying prison news publications for personal consumption in prison cells may not sound like an exciting Christmas gift. But, it is extremely useful and practical. Many prisoners are overwhelmed by boredom and lack of interesting activities to do.

Getting them subscriptions to relevant prison news publications and other materials of interest will help relieve them of boredom while keeping them connected to the outside world. It promotes the reading culture and enhances their individual education while incarcerated.

Three of our favorite on prison news publications to send to inmates as gifts are:

3. Sending Books to Inmates as Christmas Gifts

[amazon_link asins=’1533114501′ template=’ProductAd’ store=’′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ee571353-c665-11e7-a613-f7fee5d45829′] There are hundreds of books out there with prison themes. Many of these are motivational in nature, some talk about prison experiences, and others deal with coping with prison life.

Whether fiction or non-fiction, books that deal with prison themes will make great reading for most prison inmates. Many of these books are written by prison inmates or former prisoners.

There are also some other great topics that would bring value to the live of prison loved ones. Think about yours and come up with some ideas of how to help them with their goals, issues, current school courses, parenting, etc… Check out some reviews on how-to guides and self-help books.

For example, if your loved one has been trying to write her/his autobiography for a while, maybe a book about How to Write an Autobiography would make a great, useful Christmas gift.

4. Motivational Bestsellers, CDs & Music Downloads as Christmas Gifts for Inmates

This is the JPay tablet many prisoners are already using to download eBooks and music and video chat with loved ones. It should be added to your list of 2018 prison Christmas gifts.

This is the JPay tablet many prisoners are already using to download eBooks and music and video chat with loved ones. It should be added to your list of 2018 prison Christmas gifts.

Prison inmates love to read bestselling novels and popular magazines. Many inmates love reading books with prison themes and watching movies about prison life and jailbreak attempts among other things. Others are into fiction, love stories, crime novels and more.

Find out what your imprisoned loved one likes to read and send him/her bestsellers for Christmas this year.

Most prisoners also love to listen to good music, especially if its reminds them of better times. There are also those who love keeping up with the music trends, so they like listening to the top hits of the day.

Many prison facilities allow inmates to receive CDs to play on the inside. Others have implemented systems that allow inmate tablets to download music.

Show your loved one you care by sending them CDs or putting money on their music download accounts. In the CDCR system, inmates use JPay for downloading music to tablets.

5. The Best Prison Christmas Gift of All: In-Person Jail & Prison Visits

[amazon_link asins=’B0030MIFES’ template=’ProductAd’ store=’′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’cf5d0e67-c668-11e7-ac74-8bcc8da87520′] No one values personal visits like prison inmates, especially during special holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s.

They understand to barriers to paying such visits, especially when they’re housed in facilities hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of miles away from home.

Some of these barriers are work schedules, monetary costs, distance, time factor and barriers. But, your incarcerated loved ones will be glad to see you, hold you, chat with you, play games with you and eat with you during your family visit.

According to prison loved ones advocate, Renee Patterson, prison visits are the best gift you could possibly give a person during Christmas time.


Charles Omedo

Charles Omedo has a degree in Mass Communication and a PGD in Digital Communication. He worked as a newspaper/magazine reporter and editor for many years. Now, he writes daily news articles for private clients. Charles has written for US/UK/Canadian/Indian clients on various niches. He currently writes for prison loved ones on the Prison Rideshare Network nonprofit blog.