Improving the lives of inmates: The role of a pen-pal.

Pen-pals have the ability to play an important role in many inmates’ lives. They do this by providing much needed contact with someone that can provide support in a number of meaningful ways.  These include developing a healthy and positive friendship, a non-judgmental perspective, someone to relate to, and someone that will stick by them at a time when most family and friends have abandoned them. Strong friendships often develop between pen-pals and inmates. Whether the friendship continues after they are released or not, the support of a pen-pal will be remembered forever as one of the most positive experiences the inmate has had while in prison.  Developing good communication skills and healthy social interaction is essential for everyone; this is even more important for those that are incarcerated.

Very few people are interested in the opinions of inmates let alone how their lives can be improved.  Considering that >80% of inmates will re-enter society, we want to improve inmates’ lives by providing tools and job skills, as well as activities focusing on personal betterment.  Although it seems obvious that pen-pals have a positive influence on inmates’ lives, there has never been an official study on how a pen-pal can affect an inmate’s quality of life in the United States.  For us to change the public’s attitude of how to treat inmates to help in the rehabilitation process, we need to be able to provide reliable and convincing data from a study like this one. Help your inmates and others like them by exercising your right to advocate for those that have had their rights taken away. 

We have developed a survey that asks for the opinions of inmates’ and pen-pals’ in many areas of life and how these areas impact inmates’ quality of life (see figure below). Your participation is completely voluntary and will consist of completing an online survey that will take about 20-30 min to complete; all answers are confidential.  The goal of the study is to help us understand how being a pen-pal has benefited your inmates. My plan is to use this information to convince the public (and hopefully, politicians) that developing a positive, supportive and non-judgmental relationship with a pen-pal in the outside world can have long-lasting benefits for the well-being and rehabilitation of an inmate. This will be the first study ever on the effects of a pen-pal on their inmate’s life in the United States.  I invite you to participate in this important study! 

3% of survey complete.