The 10 Most Essential Items Every Inmate Needs in Their Pen Package

NOTE:  This is a personal blog, any views or opinions represented in this blog belong solely to the FedPhoneLine staff.  WE ARE NOT Psychologists or Therapy Professionals, all data and information on these blogs is for informational purposes ONLY. In the comments section we are hoping that people can outline their experiences and foster communication that will assist others going through similar events.

Being incarcerated can be a traumatic experience.  It is stressful, which not only effects the incarcerated individual but his/her supporting family and friends.

If you have a loved one who is incarcerated you may notice drastic mood swings, anxiousness and irritability.  Much of the time family and friends feel helpless, it is difficult to watch someone in a tough situation.

However, there are a few ways to help relieve some of the stress your friend or loved one feels when incarcerated.

When an individual has been convicted and sentenced to over 2 years, they will be moved from a Provincial Institution to a Federal Assessment Unit.  For example, they will be transported from Maplehurst Jail or Toronto South Jail to Joyceville Assessment Unit in Kingston or from Bordeaux Jail to the Regional Reception Centre in Sainte-Anne-de-Plaines.

Federal Inmates

All inmates with Federal sentences must first pass through an assessment unit.  They will usually stay at Assessment between 3 to 9 months.

At the Assessment Unit they will go through a screening process, which will determine what correctional programs they should take (do they need anger management, education, addiction counselling etc.), what kind of a threat they may be etc.

Once assessment is complete, they will be transferred to a different Institution (known as their “Mother” Institution) this will be either a Maximum, Medium or Minimum security facility where they will serve much of their sentence (after some time they will usually ‘cascade’ to lower security facilities and eventually be released.

Almost every inmate looks forward to their “Pen Package”.  A Pen Package is a list of personal effects that the inmate can possess (also called their “Personal Effects”).

These items may seem trivial in the real world but are very important in prison.  They help the inmate cope with his/her surroundings.  They also bring a little bit of “normal” into an unfamiliar environment.

These personal effects also may keep the inmate out of trouble as they do not have to barter, trade or engage in illegal activity to obtain items they may want/need.  As many prisoners will say “These items help me do my own time.”

10 Most Requested Items:

FedPhoneLine has conducted a short survey to find out which 10 items should be in everyone’s Pen Package (some of the items below may only be allowed in certain institutions):

  1. 19-inch Television Set with Remote Control (Plasma’s are not permitted) – Proscan, Sony or RCA seem to be the most popular models
  2. 3-10 feet TV Cable (Coaxial Cable)
  3. 12-inch fan (plastic fan only)
  4. 4 Outlet Power Bar
  5. Alarm clock/clock radio
  6. Game System – Playstation 1 or Nintendo are the most popular (games must be purchased not copied)
  7. Stereo – 1 Piece with Remote Control, 100 Watts in total, cannot have bluetooth capability
  8. T-Shirts/Clothing – 4, short sleeve, 4 long sleeve
  9. Personal CD Player
  10. Grooming/hair cutting kit


Frequently Asked Questions:

Here are a few questions people usually ask, please note at FedPhoneLine we are not experts, hopefully a more knowledgeable individual in the comments section can assist you with any questions.

When Can I Send The Pen Package?

In the assessment unit you can sent the TV, remote control, batteries and power cord.  When your friend/loved one reaches their “Mother” institution then you have 30 days to send the rest of his/her personal effects (rules may vary in different provinces).

How Long Does It Take For My Loved One To Get The Pen Package?

It depends on many factors, how many items you send, how busy the institution is.  It may take less than a month and it may take as much as 4 months (even longer).

How Do I Send The Pen Package? 

Canada Post/FedEx/UPS, you should make sure there is a tracking number on the boxes

How Much Money Can I Spend On The Pen Package? 

CSC has set a $1,500 dollar limit of allowable items

What Can I Send In The Pen Package? 

Please click here and read through to find out the entire list of items approved in Maximum, Medium and Minimum Penitentiaries.