What to Keep in Mind When You Write to a Pen Pal

What to Keep in Mind When You Write to a Pen Pal


unnamedRecently, incarcerated B&P family members shared some things they think free world family members should keep in mind when writing to a Pen Pal (posted in the June 2014 Updates E-Newsletter). Here are some of the responses:

“Don’t be afraid to really open up and tell us about yourself. We’re still people, and we crave connections with others too. If this is just a trial/temp thing, be upfront about it. A lot of us don’t get much mail and are grateful for what we do get. The most important thing is to just be yourself.”

“Be honest about what type of correspondence you are looking to engage in (upfront), whether it be personal (platonic or romantic), legal/activist- oriented, networking, card-sharing, gift-giving etc, any combo of the above.”

“Be honest about how often you can write.”

“Understand that because of the U.S. Legal system’s class discrimination… the prisoner you would write to is probably poor which could lead to some common problems, such as A) Free world people offering money and books in their initial letters when they don’t really mean it, giving false hope to the prisoner, and B) prisoners thinking they have to “play” you for money instead of just being honest.”

“Advice on how to handle the issue of money: A) Decide before you write to a prisoner whether or not you can/will assist them with money. Overall, be clear and direct about this.”

“Realize that a lot of us are going through living hell in here, isolated and cut off from family and friends, so a lot of times we will write and just need to “vent.” It’s ok don’t panic … Some of us are just so cut off we just want to be heard and have a friend to talk to. A lot of us want to get involved in gay rights and activism… and may not know how. Help us help others when possible.”

“When you can and if it is not too much, send pictures!”

“Be Honest, Be True, Be Real, and Be You. Know your Boundaries, respect yourself first and foremost… and understand yourself first to better understand others.”

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