A Place for Those Who Keep it Real

    If you Want to Be a Pen-Pal or More READ this 1st


    Posts : 81
    Join date : 2010-05-05
    Age : 45
    Location : Polk County BABY!!! 863!!!

    If you Want to Be a Pen-Pal or More READ this 1st Empty If you Want to Be a Pen-Pal or More READ this 1st

    Post  MrsGoo on Thu May 06, 2010 12:42 am

    ~Tips for Writing to Inmates~

    Please remember that writing to an inmate is a commitment. These men and women are so very lonely. Most have lost all contact with family and friends. It is difficult to form a solid friendship behind bars, just as it is difficult for them to trust again. Many want to start a relationship, many just want a friend. Someone who will listen and let them feel special and needed. They have precious little in prison. A friend is so special to them, they treasure this friendship and become incredibly protective of mail, pictures and anything associated with their friend. Receiving a letter helps them escape where they are if only for a while.

    If this is your first time writing to an inmate, you may be apprehensive about what lies ahead. You will meet all kinds of people, just as we do on the outside, some you will find you like right away and others you may not wish to write to again. Don't give up if you do not "click" with someone right away, you can always try writing to someone else.

    You might want to use a Post Office box until you feel more comfortable sharing your home address. You may also choose not to give out your phone number until you have been corresponding for a while. The cost of a phone call will be yours, inmates may only call collect.

    Honesty is important. Inmates do not trust very easily, you may find it takes a while for some to open up. Others are so anxious to talk to someone again that their thoughts are everywhere, their excitement is just too much to handle. If you don't want to divulge too much about yourself, that is your option but please remember to be honest about everything. They may want to know why you are choosing to write to an inmate. They find it hard to believe they have found a friend in someone they have never met when often their own families no longer are a part of their lives. They may want to know if you are available for a relationship.

    Many consider their crime to be personal. They may not want to share this information in a first letter. If they invite you to ask questions, by all means ask. If you wish to verify the crime of a pen pal, you can check on the State Doc Sites.

    Inmates are so happy with the smallest of gestures. Their lives have been so bare of all the beautiful things in life that it is thrilling for them to hear things you might consider mundane. They love to receive pictures (some prisons have restrictions on the size and number that may be sent in at one time). They also love to hear about your day, even if it is just a trip to the grocery store.

    Remember to send birthday cards, thinking of you cards and cards to celebrate the holidays. Many times, you'll find a prisoner has not received a card for any occasion for many years.

    People writing to inmates do so for many different reasons. It is easiest when writing your first letter to let your pen pal know what the boundaries are so there are no misunderstandings later. If you are offering friendship only, and are happily married then try to select a prisoner who is looking for a friend only. If you are available for a relationship, then let them know. If you do not wish to be asked for money or your phone number, just let them know. Most will abide by your needs providing you are clear from the beginning.

    Writing to an inmate can be a wonderful feeling. Very strong friendships are made through letters and you'll find you are just as excited as they are to receive mail. This is fun, rewarding and easy to do. So please pick up a pen and make a prisoner smile today! You'll be happy you did.

    Try to use fun, colorful stationery. They don't see much that is beautiful inside and love to receive pretty cards and stationery. White out, perfume, tape, glue, and stickers are not allowed (on either envelopes or letters) in many prisons. Find out the rules before using any to ensure your letter will be delivered.

    It's important not to write to more than one person in each prison unless you have asked. They don't have much to call their own and so become very protective and jealous of their few friends.

    Posts : 81
    Join date : 2010-05-05
    Age : 45
    Location : Polk County BABY!!! 863!!!

    If you Want to Be a Pen-Pal or More READ this 1st Empty Re: If you Want to Be a Pen-Pal or More READ this 1st

    Post  MrsGoo on Thu May 06, 2010 12:45 am


    1. Write a little background about yourself - your interests and hobbies, what you like to do in your spare time, your studies, work, pets, your favorite movies, what bands you like, what books, what religion or philosophies interest you, etc. Avoid sharing too much personal information.

    Be upfront about your ability to write on a regular basis. If you are only able to write once a month, let that person know so that he or she doesn't look for your letter and feel that you are not interested.

    If you are not looking for a romantic relationship, let them know upfront. Don't play headgames.

    If you do not want any kind of sexual references or suggestive writings from the inmate, make it perfectly clear in the beginning. Getting to know an inmate and them to know you takes time and a bit of patience. It's best to begin with a basic friendship and build relationships from that point.

    Respond to something they have written in their ads, such as a love for the outdoors or some other area of interest.

    Ask questions. Show you're interested in the person and not in the situation, the fact that he or she is in jail.

    Do NOT include gifts IN your letter. If you want to make your letters more interesting, we offer some suggestions here.

    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.

    Prisoners are happy to get your letter(s) and are looking for words of encouragement.

    2. Remember to put your return address on the upper left hand corner of the envelope (be sure it is legible) and include it again in the body of the letter in case something happens to the envelope. The prison won't accept letters without return addresses. If you don't want the prisoner to know your home address, get a P.O. Box.

    3. You might want to include a photograph of yourself so the prisoner has a "face" to put with the name. Many 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. If you are going to send a photo, make sure and write the prisoner's full name and DOC number on the back of it. Otherwise it will be rejected and sent back to you, at the inmate's expense.


    1. Maintaining an ongoing correspondence with a prisoner can be a mutually rewarding experience. Your uplifting words of encouragement can make their prison sentence more bearable. Encourage them in their endeavors such as getting an education while in prison, learning a trade, becoming more spiritual, etc.

    2. Do NOT send significant amounts of money. We can't stress this enough. If you send any money at all, money for postage is usually greatly appreciated. Be extremely leery of any inmate that tries to get you to send them funds no matter the reason. If you wish to assist a prisoner with legal expenses, ask for his attorney of record and deal with that person. NEVER send money directly to inmates for attorneys' fees.

    3. It's a prudent practice not to give our your phone number unless you get to know the inmate very well.

    4. Try not to be judgmental. Keep a cheery tone to your letters. You will find that most prisoners are sincerely lonely.

    5. It might be best to avoid talking about the particular crime that person has committed. Many times the inmate will volunteer the information themselves.

    6. If you decide you would like to send a gift to a prisoner, be sure to find out the prison's policy on gifts. There are as many rules as to what CAN and CANNOT be sent to a prisoner as there are prisons.


    1. Don't write to more than one inmate from one prison at a time. It's just not a very good idea. From previous experience we have found that many times a person that writes to more than one inmate in the same facility can create a rivalry between inmates. It's best to avoid that situation all together.

    2. All prisoners are not the same. As with any group of people there are vast differences in personalities and cultures. If you find that you don't relate well with one individual, don't let that stop you from writing to another. As with any person you meet on the outside, each one has his or her own particular quality's that may be appealing or unappealing to your own sense of taste. You will find every denomination, race, educational background and class inside prison walls.

    3. Prisoners do NOT have access to the Internet. If you are writing a prisoner with an email address, please be sure you include where they can write back to you via regular mail.

    4. If you allow a prisoner to make a collect call to you, be aware that these calls can be extremely expensive. The prison usually take a cut on all phone calls made from their facility, and most of them charge significantly more than normal pay phone collect calls.


    All prisons have STRICT rules about the contents of mail that can be received by an inmate. Sending an inmate unauthorized materials may result in your letter never to be received by the inmate. There are as many rules as to what CAN and CANNOT be sent to a prisoner as there are prisons. However, there are some things that ALL prisons will restrict. Below is a list of several items you should NOT send with your letter.

    Cards with yarn or ribbon.
    Cards that are padded.

    Oversized cards larger than 8x10.

    Laminated cards.


    Letters in foreign languages.

    Sticker or adhesive signs.

    Excessive magazine and newspaper clippings or photos.

    Metal or spiral bound notebooks or calendars.

    Pornography or nude pictures.
    Polaroid or laminated pictures


    Materials with gang signs.

    Liquor or items that contain alcohol.

    Personal items (find out the rules first).

    Anything that might be considered a weapon.

    Internet URL references. (remove all email addresses or web site information)

    Books or Magazines (must come directly from the publisher)


    These items are usually welcomed by prisoners and are good ideas for making your letters more interesting.

    Photos, not Polaroid.
    Colorful Post Cards.



    Colorful one-page calendars.

    Cartoon Humor

    Articles on current events.
    Letters on colorful stationary
    Colorful pictures from the Internet (remove all URL information).

    Crossword Puzzles (on single sheets of paper).

    Newspaper or magazine clippings (not too many at one time).

    Birthday or Holiday Cards.

    Books (direct from the publisher or retailer).

    Magazines (direct from the publisher).

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