After you get to know each other, and only if you can afford it, you may consider asking the prisoner to call you. Just as the mailing address, and everything else involved in support work, consistency is always a great advantage. Offer a reliable phone number and suggest convenient times for them to call.
Connecting with the prisoner(s) you support by phone can greatly reduce the time it takes to get things done. Having that direct line of communication is more expedient than a dialogue through the mail. Details of support work can often discuss more easily through phone communication.
Different prisons have different restrictions on calls. Some control unit prisons offer extremely limited phone time, and this may prevent this form of connection from occurring. However, some prisoners have better opportunities to use the phone and may enjoy the chance to have a more direct form of communication with their supporters.
Conditions of phone usage vary from prison to prison. Some are allowed only to make collect phone calls, others are required to pay for all of their own calls. Some offer both. If a prisoner can only make collect phone calls, seriously consider the cost and let them know if it is a financial burden to you if they call too frequently. Keep in mind that collect calling rates may fluctuate greatly depending on the time of day/night they call. If prisoners must pay for their own phone calls, remember that most prisoners are indigent and may not be able to afford the “luxury” of making calls. In this case, consider sending the prisoner a money order they can use to put on their phone account.