Writing a Good Prison Penpal Profile

Man behind fence photographed by Milad B. Fakurian A lot of incarcerated people wonder: “how do you get a penpal in jail or in prison?” Wire of Hope’s Prison Pen Pal Program commits to provide a platform to help finding penpals for inmates. For obvious reasons, even if we would love to give everybody the guarantee that they will find exactly what they’re looking for on Wire of Hope, we cannot make any promises. However, we can give tips in order to help inmates write the best profile possible, that will match their personality and expectations, and that will hopefully lead them directly to the perfect pen-friend.

You can download a printable version of our tips by clicking here and send them to your loved one in prison! If you’re using US Letter paper size, please configure your printing settings on “100%” or “actual size”. For any other paper size, make sure to choose “scale to fit”.

  • What you should be talking about. Writing about ourselves can be pretty difficult, even sometimes a little bit awkward, especially in these circumstances. The best advice Wire of Hope can give is to keep it real. Remember that the people visiting Wire of Hope are not here to judge you. Just be natural and stay true to yourself! Also know that all of the answers provided in the form to fill out will automatically be added to your profile, so you don’t have to mention this information again in your description. You can focus on talking about things you enjoy in life, whether it is things you are still doing behind bars (reading, drawing, exercising, etc.) or things you used to do before your incarceration (camping, shopping, going to the movies, etc.). Visitors are also very interested in the reasons why you’ve decided to join Wire of Hope’s Prison Pen Pal Program, and what exactly you are looking for. Don’t be concerned about sounding picky if you’re only interested in writing people of a certain age, certain gender, etc. Just explain why. Obviously, since you’re targeting a particular group of people, you will receive less mail than someone open to write everybody, but if this is truly important to you, don’t let some respondents waste their time writing you. You can also talk about your daily life in prison. Don’t be afraid to open up and show or talk about your personality. We are very aware that the process can be intimidating in some ways, but the more honestly you describe yourself, the higher the chances for you to find someone to click with!

  • Be honest in your ad. Obviously we understand that you want to look your best, but always remember that the people who visit Wire of Hope are already taking a leap of faith by deciding to write to inmates and engage in a prison correspondence. They are aware of your current situation and are not expecting anything in return but honesty on your part. Do not feel like you need to “show off” or lie in your description. Sincerity and honesty will definitely be valued by our visitors. Also, keep in mind that in today’s world, a lot of information is available on the Internet, including about criminal cases. If you choose to mention information about your case in your description (please see the next point for more information about that), always remember that information is a click away from pretty much everybody in the outside world.

  • Your criminal case. To ensure full transparency to our visitors, it is mandatory for every listed inmate to provide us with the list of their conviction(s). This list will be verified by our team and will be made available to our visitors. For this reason, you do not have to talk about your case in your profile if you do not want to. If, on the other end, you actually want to mention it, you are free to do so. However, Wire of Hope strongly recommends that you do not go into detail, whether your case is still pending or not. Also please do not mention any name(s) in your profile, and know that Wire of Hope reserves the right to make or request changes in your profile before listing it on the website.

  • Seeking romance. Many inmates have heard about people in the outside world getting romantically involved with their prison penpal. We understand that prison is a very lonely place where it is extremely difficult (if not impossible) to find love. Some may think that websites like Wire of Hope can be a way of finding love, but it is important to understand that most of our visitors do not have romantic intentions whatsoever when they consult our pages. Actually, the profiles which get the highest number of hits are the ones with no mention of a romantic interest. Do not underestimate the power of friendship behind bars and remember that most long-lasting romantic relationships started with two people becoming friends! 😉

  • Add 1 or 2 picture(s) to your profile. People like to get an idea of the physical appearance of the person they are considering writing to. This probably explains why profiles without a picture do not receive as many hits as the others. For this reason, Wire of Hope encourages inmates to provide pictures by allowing up to 2 pics in their profile at no additional charge. If the only picture you have on hand is an old one, please send it anyway. Our visitors understand that inmate penpals don’t have many opportunities to get pictures taken, and if you want to be completely transparent with them, you can mention in your description that the picture is a bit dated. Photos of multiple people will be electronically edited for privacy purposes (without altering the originals) to keep only the prison penpal on them (simply make sure to identify yourself). As a last resort, if you don’t have any picture to provide us with, you can send drawings/paintings/artwork that we will scan for you and add to your profile. Note that attached to the letter confirming your listing on our website, you will get your pictures/artwork back at no charge (unless exceeding the standard 1 oz. postage rate). Please note that pictures of a sexual or violent nature or with anything that could be interpreted as gang affiliated will be rejected by our team.

  • Add a voice message to your profile. Make your voice heard with this unique feature! Wire of Hope offers you the chance to record a message that our visitors will listen to directly from your profile! Family members and friends can go to this page for video tutorials and instructions on how to record your 30-second voice message and send us the MP3 audio file on your behalf.

  • Donations. Most inmates struggle behind bars and could surely benefit from getting hygiene products, clothing or money once in a while. Some may consider mentioning this in their ad description; however it is important to keep in mind that the people visiting WireOfHope.com are already showing more generosity than most. They are offering their time and friendship to people that some would unfortunately consider as lost causes. Also remember that beginning a prison correspondence is already a financial investment on their part: postage is not free! Do not assume that people on the outside have more financial means than you do and do not expect this kind of help by joining Wire of Hope.

  • Artwork. Please note that only the inmate’s original work will be accepted: no copyrighted work will be allowed on the website. A standard profile on Wire of Hope includes, by default, the information you provided on your form, the description you wrote and 2 pictures of your choice. If you would like to include more information on your profile, like an extra drawing or a poem for example, please consult our rates and adjust your payment accordingly. Rest assured that Wire of Hope works on offering affordable options for our most creative inmates!

  • A couple of last things to know… Please do not mention anyone by name in your profile. Note that no business of any kind may be conducted through your ad. Sexually explicit content is not allowed. Wire of Hope reserves the right to edit profiles’ contents at its discretion before uploading them online, or to deny an inmate’s listing (note that the inmate will be informed of the denial and will receive a refund). Keep in mind that our visitors have the ability to report fraud at any time. If the abuse is corroborated, Wire of Hope can ban and potentially blacklist an inmate indefinitely. In this case, no refund will be provided. Finally, please note that inmates also can report frauds to Wire of Hope. Some dishonest respondents might try to pull scams on inmate penpals to obtain money. Remember to not give your trust right away and be particularly cautious of people asking for money.