Inmate Phones

NOTE: The following information is applicable to the four state-run facilities: Montana State Prison, Montana Women’s Prison, Pine Hills Correctional Facility and Riverside Youth Correctional Facility. Crossroads Correctional Center in Shelby, Cascade County and Dawson County regional prisons, and the Missoula and Billings assessment and sanction centers are not operated by the state. For information about inmate phone service at one of those facilities, you may contact:
Crossroads – Louis Peterson, 434-7415
Cascade County – Wayne Bye, 727-1930
Dawson County – Dale Henrichs, 377-7687
Missoula Assessment and Sanction Center – Dan Maloughney, 258-4021
Billings Assessment and Sanction Center – Mindy Brookshire, 294-9609 ext 243


I want to talk on the phone to an inmate at one of the Montana prisons. What do I have to do?
Only collect and prepaid calls from adult inmates are allowed and, to receive a call, you must accept the charges or set up a prepaid phone account with the Inmate Telephone System Provider (listed below). To receive a call from a juvenile offender, your number must be on the offender’s pre-approved list. Juveniles are allowed at least one non-collect call per month. Phone calls to and from juvenile offenders must be arranged through the youth’s case manager.

What happens when I receive an inmate call?
You are informed you have a collect call from an inmate at the specified facility and are given four options: Accept the call, refuse the call, block calls from the facility or get a rate quote for the call.

Why can’t I call an inmate? Why does the call have to be collect from the inmate?
Security is a primary concern, and prison officials must be able to track who inmates have contact with and the nature of their interactions to ensure security practices are not violated.

Are there certain hours in which inmates can place calls?
Montana State Prison – 6 a.m.-8:30 p.m.; Montana Women’s Prison – 6 a.m.-10 p.m. Calls can be prohibited for security reasons at any time. Riverside and Pine Hills – Friday evenings, Saturday and Sunday and holidays, and outside of regular programming hours on other days.

Are certain inmates not permitted to make calls?
Those inmates in confinement for disciplinary violations. Phone calls are a privilege, not a right, and access can be affected by an inmate’s behavior.

How often can an inmate make a call?
The frequency depends on an inmate’s classification level at Montana State Prison and Montana Women’s Prison. The limit at Riverside and Pine Hills is determined by availability of phones and how many calls recipients are willing to accept.

How long can an inmate call last?
Montana State Prison and Montana Women’s Prison –30 minutes; Riverside – 15 minutes; Pine Hills – no limit.

What does a phone call cost?
The flat-rate cost is based on a $0.24-per-call connection fee and 12 cents per minute. A 30-minute long-distance call from an inmate at Montana State Prison, Montana Women’s Prison and Pine Hills and Riverside youth correctional facilities to anywhere in the continental United States costs about $3.84 plus taxes and fees mandated by state and/or federal law. Costs vary at non-state facilities because they use different providers.

What happens to the commission collected from inmate calls?
At the two prisons, all commissions earned go into the ”inmate welfare fund,” which is used to pay for inmate activities and programs, including subscriptions to the satellite TV service and recreational equipment for the inmates. Most of the fund’s revenue comes from phone calls. At Pine Hills and Riverside, the facilities’ share is placed in a phone fund, from which spending is determined by the superintendent based on recommendations by staff and youths. Money is used for special events for youth or additional recreational equipment.

Who handles the billing?
Telmate, LLC is the state’s contractor for the inmate phone system. If your local/long distance provider has a billing contract with Telmate, LLC, then inmate calls are billed to your home phone through your local phone company. If your local provider has no contract, you will have to establish a pre-paid account with Telmate, LLC. Telmate, LLC can be contacted at 1-866-516-0115. The Telmate Web site is http://www.telmate.com

Is there a limit on the amount of phone bill charges I can accrue?
Yes, unless you have a pre-paid account. If you do not have a pre-paid account, the limit is 4 calls per day, 24 calls per month and $250 per month. When those amounts are reached, Telmate blocks calls until the bill is paid.

My local phone provider doesn’t handle collect call billing. What can I do in order to receive collect calls from an inmate?

For Montana State Prison and Montana Women’s Prison, inmate families or friends can create pre-paid inmate phone accounts to cover the cost of calls. This can be done several ways:
  • Go online at www.telmate.com This address, available around the clock, also can be used to recharge an account and check balances on an account. Major credit cards or a checking account can be used for payment. Online transactions require a $30 minimum payment.
  • Call the Telmate, LLC customer service department at 1-866-516-0115.
  • Use Western Union to add money to an account. The nearest office can be found at www.westernunion.com. Call your Western Union or Money Gram payment into Telmate's customer service 1-866-516-0115. They will electronically process your payment and post the funds to the prepaid account.
Why is it important to provide phone access to inmates?
Family is a key support group for offenders and their ability to stay in touch with loved ones while incarcerated is an important tool in inmates’ habilitative efforts. It also is comforting for the family to know that their loved ones are all right and getting along while incarcerated. Such communication can help an inmate be more successful in treatment programs and behave better while in prison.

Are inmate calls electronically monitored and recorded?
Yes, except for those to attorneys.

How are phone calls between inmates and attorneys handled?
Inmates can request to have attorney phone numbers added to the list of “attorney privileged calls.” After the numbers are verified as belonging to attorneys, the numbers are added to the database and calls to those numbers are not subject to monitoring or recording. The calls are subject to the same charges as other adult inmate calls.

Why are non-attorney calls monitored and recorded? Security concerns require this to protect the public from harassment, unwanted calls and illegal activities. This is a common practice in correctional facilities across the country.

What is prohibited in phone conversations?
Discussion of potentially illegal activities, such as threats of violence, promoting disruption within the facility and acts of terrorism are prohibited.

What happens if prohibited matters arise during a phone conversation?
An inmate is subject to disciplinary and/or criminal action, and can lose phone privileges.

Why can’t inmates have cell phones or prepaid phone cards?
Tracking and accountability are impossible. Security features can be bypassed, calls cannot be tracked or monitored, and phone cards do not allow officials to determine who actually uses a card. They pose a major risk to the safe and orderly operation of correctional facilities.