It can be very tough when a loved one goes to prison. Prison not only punishes the individual, but ends up punishing a family as well. You may even be angry at the person for their decisions that led them to prison.
However, prison can also rehabilitate people to become better people when they serve their sentence. Having words of encouragement and support from loved ones will help a prisoner stay on a good path in their rehabilitation.
How to find specific prisoners
If you want to send a letter to someone in prison, but don’t know where they’re being held, you have a few ways of finding them. If you at least know the state where they are incarcerated, for example if they are being held in Michigan, performing an inmate lookup should be relatively easy on a state inmate database.
When sending a letter to a prisoner, make sure it is on a clearly marked envelope with no additional scribbling. Do not spray the envelope with any kind of perfume or cologne, and do not seal the envelope with tape.
How to find prisoner pen pal groups
If you have charitable motives for wanting to write letters to prisoners, there are several groups you can look into. Be aware that there are groups that try to arrange romantic pen-pal communications with prisoners, which you should discern while looking into pen-pal groups.
Typically these grassroots groups have clear methods of offering support to prisoners in their rehabilitation process, such as sending motivational and positive letters of support, and offering aid and resources for rejoining civilian life.
If you don’t have any local prisoner support groups, there are other ways you can support prisoners.
Why send letters to prisoners?
Prisoners can fall deeper into the system through infractions that earn them more prison time. A prison yard fight for example could result in isolated confinement, or even extended sentences. A person who has love and support from outside of the prison is less likely to participate in illegal elements of prison culture that would further destroy their lives.
Prisons serve two purposes. Their first purpose is as a deterrent and a punishment, and to make society safer. But prison also should serve as a rehabilitation for troubled people, who need help re-entering civilian life once their time is served.
As with any kind of rehab, such as for alcoholics or drug addicts, an important part of the rehab process is love and support from friends and family. Even if somebody’s decisions led to their consequences, the love and support of people helps them to realize their errors, and become better people.
In that sense, sending letters to a loved one in prison helps them maintain a connection to the outside world, giving them hope and positivity to stay on a good path, and not be tempted into spiraling further into prison culture, because they’ve been completely institutionalized with no connections to the outside world.
What can you send to prisoners?
If you plan on sending an inmate any kind of care package, you should be aware that the list of items is very strict. In fact, it’s easier to just say what you can send, instead of the inexhaustible list of things you can’t. If it isn’t on this list, do not send it in a care package as it will be confiscated by the prison as contraband.
You can send small amounts of money to a prisoner. This money can be used in the commissary for purchasing snacks, personal hygiene items, etc. The exact amount you’re allowed to send may depend on the correctional facility.
Reading is one of the main past-times in prison. Magazines and newspapers can keep a prisoner connected to the outside world, and books are great for expanding their mind.
Sending happy childhood or family photographs will remind a prisoner of the people they love on the outside. Do not send any inappropriate photos, even if you are married to the prisoner. They will be confiscated.
Each correctional facility may have different rules on what can be sent to a prisoner. Some prisons for example allow food packages that include snack foods and soft drinks, others may only allow it twice a year, or not at all.