If you wonder what difference a prison pen pal program can make in an incarcerated person’s life, read our prison penpal testimonials below or go to our “Why Start a Prison Correspondence?” page.
The moment I decided I’d write to strangers is the very moment my life would begin to improve. Meeting people this way has allowed me to grow in several ways and I realized I’m not as antisocial as I thought. Having been able to get to know people from around the world has given me insight into other cultures and the universal link we all share, is that we want to be treated fairly and maybe find someone to love. It has given me the opportunity to discover who I want to be. Pen-pals have improved my quality of life and opened my eyes to new dimensions, and I met my favorite person in the world! I still struggle at times to endure living in a cage, even on those tough days, it’s always nice to hear from someone who might actually care.Alan, incarcerated since 2005.
It’s a connection to the outside world. When you get that feeling of care and compassion that’s so lacking in a place like prison, coming from a complete stranger, you’re viewed a human being first than solely on our actions here. It means everything. There’s so much judgement that starts immediately in the criminal justice process and from the moment someone is charged and throughout their entire incarceration. Their true character and identity is often lost along the way based on one mistake that they made.Benjamin served 10 years in prison.
My experiences with pen-pals while incarcerated were limited. I never had one before. With my release date being only a few years away, I wanted to start to reconnect to the public more and try to mitigate my antisocial tendencies. I found that utilizing a pen-pal program may be the best way to get connected with people and see if I could establish some healthy communication. After several experiences I found that I was starting to establish communication with genuine people that weren’t judging me or playing games. I felt relieved to have this ability and mentioned these experiences to acquaintances and family. They noticed a few small changes in my personality that was certainly positive and I’m thankful for that.Jeromee served 19 years in prison.
As the days and years have passed, the world “out there” grew further away, until it seemed as though “this” is all there is. As the boy who came to prison changed, transforming to the man I am, the world spun as I grew, one oblivious of the other. In all my growth, in my goals to be a good man, a good dad, striving to gain the tools I need to succeed in a society where I’ve struggled for so long, I found that I was lonely more than ever. That loneliness stung even worse around holidays, birthdays, achieving great accomplishments with nobody to share them with, with a son too young to understand and a world that has forgotten me. When I began getting penpals, it helped me mentally and emotionally in ways I didn’t realize I needed. Not only were people there for me but I was able to be there for others with mutual compassion, kind words and support. Through penpals, I was reminded there’s a beautiful world still out there waiting for me, something easy to forget when darkness is always surrounding you. Letters, emails, pictures and cards shined a light in, easing a chaotic mind and comforting a broken heart. I forgot what it was like to have people care, wish me a happy birthday, a merry Christmas, tell me “good job”, “keep it up”, “I am proud of you.” Such encouragement has created even more growth, positive changes, enlightenment, motivation and new perspectives. I developed many friendships and although I never intended and never expected to, I found peace, calm, healing and love. More than a partner, I found my best friend, a family and a team. The feeling of being complete, fulfilled, supported and hopeful all resulted from my initial decision to reach beyond these walls through Wire of Hope, where I found my heartbeat. I found something beautiful, rare, and real… It was the best decision I ever made.Nathaniel, incarcerated since 2015.
I could not at my age be content to take my place as just ‘a prisoner’ and look on at a life that I so miss. Life is meant to be lived in spite of our circumstances and receiving a simple letter from someone can spark hope on some very dark moments of this journey. I can share with you that the first time I received a letter from my pen-pal, I couldn’t stop smiling. It wasn’t much said but it fueled my strength to live! That’s the power of kindness, no matter how small. I wish more people would sign up to put forth kindness and hope in the lives of men like me.Thomas, incarcerated since 2005.
Wire of Hope’s prison penpal profiles are all available here.