Prisoner Express Online Volunteer Guide
We're so glad you're joining us here as an online volunteer. There are 7 steps you need to take in order to get set up to send free letters from our online app.
This article goes through each of the steps you need to volunteer online.
- Steps 1 - 3 are about setting up your account
- Steps 4 - 7 are about sending letters to prisoners
📌 The following instructions will get you set up correctly with Ameelio, the online service we use to take your messages and convert them into a physical letter that is mailed to a prisoner.
It's important that you follow these instructions step by step to make sure that letters arrive properly. Questions? Please reply below.
Step 1: Make sure you're a registered volunteer with Prisoner Express
You need a volunteer number. This was provided when you registered on our volunteer form. If you still need to register and get a volunteer ID number, go here: http://bit.ly/pe-vol-signup
If you forget your number, find it here: bit.ly/pe-vol-num
Step 2: Create an Ameelio account using "Alter" for your last name
Ameelio requires you have a personal account connected to Prisoner Express. This will track whether letters are received and help resolve any deliverability issues to prison.
Make sure you write down your username and password in a secure location.
Or copy and paste into your browser:
📌 It's important because if someone responds to your letter it will be arriving at Prisoner Express PO Box (see below) and we want to scan the letter and make it available for you if you want to read responses.
Make sure your PE Volunteer Number is used in your correspondence and you make sure the prisoner knows to include your number in the response. This way we can make sure you receive the letter.
Step 3: Provide the PE return address
You can use our address if you'd like, or provide your own return address to receive letters.
DAL/Prisoner Express Center for Transformative Action PO Box #6556 Ithaca, NY 14851
Step 4: Log in at Ameelio.org or download the app to send messages
Now that you've completed steps 1-3, you're all set to send letters through Ameelio using the mobile app or the website.
From now on you'll be able to add contacts on the fly and send responses to prisoner writings you find in the contributions database.
Step 5: Add a contact in Ameelio
In order to start sending, you need to add a contact in your Ameelio account. You can access the Prisoner Express spreadsheet of participants to get a name and address.
Once you add a contact, they'll be in your Ameelio account it's easy to send another letter.
From the prisoner contributions spreadsheet, you can find addresses. You can search for the author or find the address along with the contribution you're responding to.
NOTE: You may need to Google the address of the prison in order to finish adding the facility name to Ameelio as it's connected to a national database.
Then, in Ameelio, you click the "+ Add Contact" button to set up your first contact. As soon as your contact is set up, you can send a letter.
Step 6: Send a Letter in Ameelio
Now that you have your account set up, and you've added a contact, you can send a letter.
Sending Limits: Ameelio allows 3 free letters per week (and resets on Mondays). Please contact us if you'd like to send more than 3 letters per week and we can make arrangements.
Here is a 1-minute video (no sound) showing the process of adding a contact and sending a letter.
Step 7: Log Your Correspondence
📌 This is extremely important to the success of this volunteer program!
By keeping track of correspondence, we're able to track how effective we are in our programming and make sure that all of the people who have contributed to our programs receive a response.
The form will ask you to select the item from our digital archive you're responding to. It matches your volunteer record with the prisoner's writing and helps us tremendously.
Thanks for reading this guide, and thanks for being part of this program!
Please leave a comment below if you have any questions or suggestions to improve these instructions!
~ Ryan and Gary