So I have been writing letters to prisoners in America. Something I wanted to do for a very long time but for some reason never did. Receiving a letter is the highlight of the day for most prisoners. Just think of how lonely it must feel at mail call to never hear your name being called, especially after being locked up for several years and family and friends have deserted you. I love to be the highlight of someone’s week! Just see it as a very positive thing. Even though they did their crimes, they are still humans. You can choose who you want to write yourself. I posted a picture today of me getting 2 letters from 2 different prisoners. Mister S. is currently serving life sentence in Nevada, while Mister E. is almost getting free but he has been in prison for 10 years now since he was 18 years old. I asked my followers on Instagram to ask me anything so I can answer them all here!
1. How did you find the prisoners?
I was searching the internet and found the website called www.writeaprisoner.com This website shows you profiles of all the inmates (some have pictures), you can see what their zodiac sign is, their birthday, where they come from, where their prison is located and even for what crime they in for.
2. How did you choose the prisoners from so many profiles?
I just randomly picked 3 prisoners. Of course you look at the pictures too but my advice is just to randomly pick someone with a friendly bio. Never judge a book by its cover!
3. What did you write about in your first letter?
I wrote about myself, my family, my friends, the busy life I have, my jobs, what I love to do most, that I’m a very spontaneous and fun girl to hang with, that I love being outdoors, how The Netherlands looks like, what places I traveled and which ones are on my bucket list. You can literally talk about anything.
4. Did you mention your name and adres?
I did mention my adres, but not my real name. I’m completely honest about the rest of my life in the letters. I only wanted to use a different name cause when you type in my full name on google, you’ll find EVERYTHING. You can always use a different name if you want, but don’t lie too much about other stuff. These are real life people too. Because inmates do not have access to the Internet, they must correspond through postal mail and therefore require a physical address. The prisoner is given whatever address you provide so he/she can respond to your letter. You do not have to give your address if you are willing to get a P.O. Box.
5. Aren’t you afraid they come find you?
Nope. I mean, some of the prisoners are locked up forever or at least 50 years. Besides that, I live in the middle of nowhere why would they come and find me. You have to take the plane, train, bus, metro, and bike to find me lol.
6. Did you send pictures of yourself?
No I didn’t. This because I’m easy to find on the internet. I did send a drawing of me so that they have the idea of how I kinda look like. Getting personal is fine by me, but sending pictures is something I’m not comfortable with (yet). I did send some pictures from the place I live at, some of them don’t have internet so that is a great thing to add to your letter. You can also describe how you look like, its nice to have a idea from the person who is writing you.
7. What are you aloud to ask and what not?
Don’t ask about their crime. I write someone that’s in for murder. Yes, he is still a murderer but you have no idea WHY he did it. They will tell you more personal things once they know you well enough. It all takes time! You can ask about their family, if they visit often, how a normal day looks like, what places they have been to, you can ask what their fave music is or fave movies.
8. Aren’t they jealous of you living your live?
I don’t think so. I mean, of course they want to go home and be free too. But whatever I do in my free time, I tell them cause they will re-experience it through my stories. They try to make the best of their days in prison. Some of them work, some of them do other great stuff.
10. How long do you have to wait to get a reply?
Institutional mail typically moves about 3-5 working days slower than normal mail. Mail is rarely lost as long as it is addressed properly. International mail can take up to one week longer for delivery. Messages are sent on the 4th and 20th of each month.
– Make sure you are 100% behind your choice if you want to write a prisoner. So many prisoners don’t have any family or friends left and their biggest fear is to die without anyone ever knew him/her. YOU can be that change so please only write when you always have the time to reply.
– Be positive and happy. They want to make the best out of it so dragging them down is something that is unappreciated. You begin as a pen pal, but you are in a position to become much more – a mentor/friend. You may become the most influential person in your prison pen pal’s life. Many inmates lose all contact with the outside world. You are in a unique position to encourage positive behavior and reform. Inmates will typically share more of their concerns with outside contacts, because it is not perceived as a weakness like it is in prison. You can help by providing a sympathetic ear and steering them away from trouble.
– Every letter is going to be read first by the ”higher people” so that they are sure nothing weird is in the letter. Sexual language is prohibited.
– Don’t judge by their crime. WriteAPrisoner.com requires that inmates disclose their crimes, however, The website recommends that you not ask the inmate about his or her crime. When they are ready, they may bring it up in correspondence, and that would be the time to discuss it.
– Use this inmate’s complete address on both the envelope and letter. If the letter should become separated from the envelope, the prison will still be able to get it to the inmate. The same can be said for the U.S. Postal Mail.
– Do not correspond with an inmate or anyone that you don’t know if your own mental state is unsound. It can be damaging to both you and the inmate.
Please feel free to hit me up e e-mail if you want to know more, Ill keep you guys updated with whats in the letter the next post!