How to become a pen pal to an inmate
A person on DR (Death Row) often spends up to 23 hours each day in a small cell for years and sometimes decades. Letters can bring a ray of hope to the darkness of DR. For those on the outside, learning to know just one prisoner can dispel some of the misconceptions and fears about prisons and the people locked away inside.
My pen pal is a black male, 48 years old who has been in prison for 27 years serving 2 life sentences. He was raised by an abusive, bipolar, addicted mother. When he was first arrested, his own son was one year old. They have been trying to build a relationship by phone and he has never met his three grandchildren. He is a spiritual man and says, “I am not a victim, and I stand in my own responsibility.”
Some positive changes went into effect at his prison in the past year. As part of that, he has worked outside; he shovelled two city blocks of snow and was paid $ 1.26 for 3 hours work. He earns 24 cents an hour for 5 days a week and $6 a month for school. He says, “A good month, I earn $33.”
We have been writing back and forth since October 2019. Since the pandemic reached peak, I have been seeing reports on the COVID-19 situations in prisons. I am concerned for my penpal as I have not heard from him since February 10th. I became interested in the Death Row Support Project since reading an article in the Brethren Messenger. I then read the book Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson which convinced me to become part of the project. The application is very simple and done on-line. The commitment is one letter a month for a year. I’m feeling a relationship developing already that I’m sure will last longer than one year – God willing.
For more information, contact Lyn Ficili at firstname.lastname@example.org.