Three states are refusing to allow inmates to seek pen-pals, despite evidence that inmates with pen-pals are significantly more likely to return to society better prepared to make a fresh start! If you find this shocking, read on.
More than 90% of all inmates will be released someday. Countless studies support the tremendous benefits to both inmates and society when inmates maintain positive communication and build positive connections with people outside. Yet three governors are allowing their Departments of Corrections to completely block a known tool for reducing recidivism!
Shocked? Stand up, and help inmates in FLORIDA, INDIANA, and MISSOURI get their lives back on track. Alert these governors that their correctional directors are creating a revolving-door prison system if they continue to block inmates from seeking pen-pal relationships. This costs taxpayers. This costs families. This costs society.
We are WriteAPrisoner.com, a website that posts the following types of profiles for inmates: Educational, Employment, Housing, Legal, and our most popular, Pen-pal. Members of the public choose to write to inmates posted on our website via postal mail. We do not give inmates access to the Internet in any way.
In 2003, the Florida Department of Corrections proposed a rule to ban inmates from seeking pen-pals. This rule bans inmates from participating in all of our programs. We attended the State’s public hearing on the proposed rule in Tallahassee, Florida, as did representatives from many other organizations that oppose the rule, including the ACLU, the Catholic Church, members of the public, ministers, and others. Not one person showed up to support the rule, and the state offered no evidence to justify such a ban.
Still, in 2004, the rule was implemented by former Florida Department of Corrections Secretary, James Crosby. (Incidentally, Mr. Crosby, who implemented this rule, has since been imprisoned himself on corruption charges.)
Research overwhelmingly shows that inmates having access to contacts outside of prison has a highly positive and effective impact on rehabilitation. Still, these states have cut them completely off without even so much as a single documented problem. This is counterproductive to helping these inmates turn their lives around and returning to us as well adjusted citizens. It is a revolting act that hurts all of us.
Since the adoption of this ban in Florida, two other states have followed suit and adopted almost verbatim language of the Florida Department of Corrections rule that bans our mail. They are Governor Nixon from Missouri and Governor Pence from Indiana. These governors may not have started these destructive policies, but they have the power to end them.
Registered voters from each state will deliver this petition to their respective governors. Please support what little is left of a First Amendment for prisoners and those who want to help them turn their lives around. Will you please sign this petition today?
Finally, no matter how we say it, we feel inmates say it best. We hear from thousands of inmates about the importance of receiving mail. Here are a few words from former inmates posted on WriteAPrisoner.com:
“Corresponding helps me shrug off the dark mood of despair which threatens to beset my spirit.” (Raiford Prison, FL)
“Because of WriteAPrisoner.com, I have made many new friends which has made my time here much easier. The best part is because of your service, I now have a wonderful job awaiting me when I get out.” (Hawkinsville Prison, GA)
“Nobody cares. You should see the faces of the hundreds of men who wait expectantly day after day at mail-call.” (Atmore Prison, AL)
Additional Resources & Information:
David C. Fathi, Director, ACLU National Prison Project, responded to the pen-pal ban saying, “One of the best predictors of positive behavior inside prison, and successful re-entry after release, is maintaining connections with the outside world. Policies that prevent prisoners from connecting with the society they will one day rejoin are shortsighted and counterproductive.”
Ongoing campaign to governors (Letters, Facebook messages, etc.): http://writeaprisoner.com/letter-writing-campaign.aspx
If you VALUE YOUR FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS, please exercise them now to SPEAK OUT on behalf of those who can't! Thank you!
I am writing on behalf of WriteAPrisoner.com, an organization that:
• helps inmates find pen-pals for correspondence,
• posts free online employment, housing, and educational requests for inmates,
• provides free educational materials to prisons through its Books Behind Bars program,
• publishes a free Self-Help Series for inmates to further their education, repair credit, parent from prison and much more while corresponding with their pen-pals.
In fact, WriteAPrisoner.com is the largest and most proactive organization of its kind, working to reduce recidivism for more than eleven years. I encourage you to visit their website to learn about all of their programs and success stories.
WriteAPrisoner.com is a friend to inmates, inmates’ families, and society at large for their work in promoting positive relationships and offering real tools for inmates to rebuild their lives and become productive members of society upon release.
Your Department of Corrections is refusing to deliver mail sent by WriteAPrisoner.com, and I am asking that you please look into this matter and intervene so that WriteAPrisoner.com’s mail is allowed to pass freely through the DOC. There is no logical rationale for opposing inmates seeking positive correspondence, jobs, housing, education, etc. Is it not in society’s best interests to promote positive interactions with pen-pals? The mail remains the single most useful means for such positive communication since inmates have no access to the Internet. The cost to incarcerate is higher than ever. Your state should welcome any opportunity to reduce recidivism, if not for moral reasons, then for financial.
Research has repeatedly shown that inmates who maintain contact with the outside world: 1) reduce their likelihood to recidivate, 2) decrease their likelihood of continued substance abuse, 3) increase their chances of securing employment, 4) experience increased morale, 5) avoid conflicts with other inmates during incarceration, 6) seek education and literacy, and 7) reduce the frequency of anxiety and depression during incarceration. Supporting data are available here: www.writeaprisoner.com/why-write-a-prisoner/default.aspx
The DOC claims that fraud, or the potential for fraud, justifies this ban, but little to no evidence has ever been offered to support this claim. Additionally, WriteAPrisoner.com takes many precautions, which are listed here: www.writeaprisoner.com/precautionary-measures-taken.aspx
Even if fraud allegations were true, the DOC has the ability to charge inmates and punish them as they already do for any type of criminal activity. However, these cases are extremely rare and simply do not reflect the general purpose of inmates’ correspondence with the free world. Punishing all because of a few does not serve the greater good. I ask that your office intervene and allow mail from WriteAPrisoner.com to enter the DOC’s mailrooms without hindrance.
I also request that this letter be entered into the official record in opposition of this rule. Please be assured that I will continue to stay apprised on this situation via WriteAPrisoner.com. I appreciate that your administration is committed to reducing crime and recidivism, and I believe that WriteAPrisoner.com stands as a partner and ally for the DOC in achieving that goal. Shouldn’t we all be working to reduce recidivism?
Thank you for your time. I look forward to your prompt response regarding this serious matter.