At its core, the prison system is meant to be a place of rehabilitation and of reform. While serving their time, inmates are encouraged to engage in prison reform activities and programs to support this, but it is often not required, and these programs can notoriously fall short. Instead, inmates are often left to serve out their sentence with very little to interact with and with very little contact with the outside world. The cold and dreary setting only promotes feelings of isolation. Extensive research has been poured into finding productive ways for prison inmates to serve their time, one of the most effective being prison pen pal systems. Multiple research methods agree that prison pen pal schemes show tangible evidence of growth, and improved mental health among inmates. Here are three ways that participating in a prison pen pal system can support an inmate’s well being.
A large contributing factor to the feelings of isolation an inmate can feel in prison come from losing touch with the outside world. It is not uncommon for prisoners to lose touch with their families while they are incarcerated, or to have little to no family at all. Having little contact with the outside world can leave a prisoner feeling trapped and alone, with their entire identity dwelling inside the prison. Connecting with a prison pen pal allows you to be their window to the outside world. When you write an inmate, you can give them updates to what’s happening outside, talk about shared interests and hobbies, and remind them of the life that they once had. In many cases, you will be the only person from outside of the prison that your inmate pen pal will have to talk to. You will play a large role in helping them not to lose sight of who they were before their life in prison.
When subject to complete isolation as inmates often are, they begin to lose connection with their soul. With very little human interaction, mental health will almost always deteriorate. Of course, isolation from the outside world is a necessary component of the prison system. Unfortunately, being denied access to basic human connection, a prisoner can begin to feel detached and suffer. Your companionship as a prison pen pal will be the warm friendly relationship they so desperately need. It will help them to feel like they are still capable of having friends on the outside, and ease their transition back into society when the time comes.
Break them from the dull routine of prison life. Your letter will give them something to look forward to as they serve out their sentences. Your correspondence will be a glimmer of light and hope. A distraction to keep them in a positive and constructive head space while incarcerated. In fact, inmate pen pal programs have even shown benefits in preventing suicide scenarios.
Do not discount yourself! Your correspondence will be a positive influence on their lives. Talk to your inmate pen pal about anything: your life, your goals, your career, and be the spark to encourage them to work for a better life on the outside.
Let your inmate pen pal know that there is someone in their corner for them, and that they have not been forgotten. Get started and write an inmate with Inmate-Connection. Simple choose your inmate pen pal from our large database of inmate bios from all over the country, and get writing! A little TLC from you will go a long way in supporting the wellbeing of an inmate.