Tips for writing Prisoners

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Tips for writing Prisoners

Post  Jennie on Wed Jun 18, 2008 12:51 am

Tips For Writing Prisoners

First of all, we'd like to thank you for writing to prisoners. Very few people would be willing to share their time with these men and women who have become the outcasts of our society. The fact remains - they are human beings. When you read their stories and see their pictures you will recognize that loneliness is one of the greatest challenges they face each day. Mail call may the lowest point of their day, yet communication is essential in the rehabilitation process. So, thank you for this selfless act which is more than the price of a stamp. It is an act of faith - faith that you can reach out and make a positive difference in another person's life. We hope these helpful hints will enhance this letter writing experience for you.

Writing That First Letter

In your first letter, tell a little background about yourself - your interests and hobbies, things like that. Avoid sharing too much personal information. Prisoners are happy to hear from you and are looking for words of encouragement. You might respond to something they have written in their ads, such as a love for the outdoors or some other area of interest.


If you don't receive a reply right away, be patient. Mail moves more slowly behind prison walls. These men and women are anxiously awaiting contact from the outside world. If you don't get an immediate reply, be assured that it is not because they are not trying to communicate with you.


Be sure both your return and to address are legible. Always print your name and address neatly on the envelope and include it again in the body of the letter in case something happens to the envelope. Put your pen pals last name and correctional ID number on each sheet of paper or the back of any photos that you enclose - this insures that pages won't get lost when the mail is opened.


Birthdays can be a lonely time. If you don't have time for a lengthy correspondence, remembering a prisoner on this particular day can have a tremendous impact. Their birthdays are displayed with their ad information.


Greeting cards can be a good way to make initial contact. There are so many friendship-type cards available just to say "hello" to the prisoner. This can take the pressure off of you worrying about what to write that first time.


You might want to include a photograph of yourself so the prisoner has a "face" to put with the name. Obviously, many of the prisoners are forthright in stating they are looking for relationships, but others are simply looking for a friend with whom they can correspond. A photo would be a nice gesture of friendship.


Do NOT include gifts, information about other inmates or any other unauthorized items. This would create problems for the prisoners. Check with the inmate you are writing to before sending any items. Your letter means more to them than any gift you might want to send them.


Be open and honest in your correspondence but stay level-headed and always remember that these pen pals are human beings. They are not novelty toys. They are people and should be treated with respect and courtesy regardless of what they are incarcerated for.


We encourage you, the pen pal, to try and be a friend first and possibly a mentor to your inmate pen pal. During incarceration, a good pen pal can be instrumental in helping inmates overcome addictions, tracking down lost family and friends, and by providing a positive line to the outside world.



Follow-Up Writing

Maintaining an ongoing correspondence with a prisoner can be a mutually rewarding experience. As you get to know each other, your uplifting words of encouragement can make their prison sentence more bearable. You can encourage them in their endeavors, such as work and school.


If you decide you would like to send a gift to a prisoner, be sure to find out the prison's policy on prisoners receiving gifts. This varies from prison to prison, and your pen pal will be able to provide this information.

(Source: Writeaprisoner)
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Jennie
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