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 this, 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, incarcerated since 2012.
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 website/service 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, incarcerated since 2001.
Prison is a very dark and lonely place. When you spend such a long period in a place where you always have your guard up and can’t trust anyone, your humanity starts to fade and you become a darker version of yourself. But a pen-pal can offer an outlet to the world, a safe place to talk, and friendship to the poorest and most desperate segment of the population. What a pen-pal can bring is the light of humanity and care to those that may have never experienced it before in their lives. Having a caring outlet to share experiences and voice feelings to is the first step towards feeling human again and feeling like one is connected to society. It’s easy to feel like societal trash while sitting in prison, but a pen-pal can bring a redemptive hope that can inspire someone to make real and profound changes towards rehabilitation. I know this to be true, because that is exactly what my pen-pal brought me. I met the best friend that I’ve ever had in my life.Matthew, incarcerated since 2006.
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.