Social Question

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Would you participate in a prisoner penpal exchange?

Asked by ANef_is_Enuf (26784points) September 17th, 2011

Would you?
Why or why not?
Would it depend on the charges, or not?
If so… do you know what has stopped you?

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32 Answers

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I’m not trying to set one up, or anything… so don’t be afraid to answer. :)

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

I would, to lift their spirits, keep them abreast of what is going on in the world, and hopefully some direction they can take with their life once they get out.

Brian1946's avatar

I’m already involved in a nightly 3-way Skype with Chucky Manson and Ricky Ramirez! ;-p

Jellie's avatar

I did participate in one. Got a penpal in the States and it was very nice. I got a nice guy and I could tell he looked forward to my letters. So it felt good.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I’m actually asking this question because a friend of mine just started it, and he linked me to the site that he used to set it up. The very first profile I came across fascinated me… and not in the “this has a hint of danger and excitement that is just enough to make it thrilling” kind of way that I have always (probably unfairly) assumed that people do it for. Which lead me to wonder how other people feel about it.
I won’t be participating, because I suspect it would scare the everloving crap out of my husband… but it made me curious, anyhow.

augustlan's avatar

While I’d like to say I would, the truth is, I probably wouldn’t. One lame reason is that I can’t even make myself write letters to people I know, and should already be writing to. I’m just very bad about that.

But even if that weren’t the case, I’m pretty sure it would awaken bad feelings in me. I spent a lot of time and effort keeping myself hidden from my uncle (the one who sexually abused me as a child), both when he was in and when he was out of jail. I know, rationally, that it’s not in any way related… but my emotional side doesn’t believe it. I think I’d feel too vulnerable.

JilltheTooth's avatar

I don’t know, honestly. I’m bad at keeping up with writinb anybody, like @augustlan , but I also had a beloved cousin who was a felon, and I managed to write to him while he was inside.

jca's avatar

I don’t think I would. I would love the idea of writing letters to someone, but a prisoner, no. I have known people in jail and my logic would be you never know who people know or who they are indebted to. If someone knew my personal situation and they also knew my address (from the letter writing), what’s to say the person didn’t pass this info along to someone else, perhaps because they were indebted to them, or perhaps they wanted to show them an opportunity. You never know who they know or talk to, and I would not want to set myself up to get robbed, or whatever.

I used to work with someone who had a husband in jail for murder, and another coworker was having a get-together at her house. She said she would not invite the one with the husband in jail, and she told me the reason was that she felt like the woman would tell the husband about the party and the home situation, and she felt like that information might make it into the wrong hands. She got me thinking with her explanation, and I feel for that reason, I would not correspond in a pen pal exchange. Better safe then sorry, especially when it comes to your personal safety and that of your family.

Pandora's avatar

LOL. They would be out of prision before they got the second letter. I’m great with writting but not so great in remembering to mail crap out. I don’t know why. I know I have a collection of Christmas cards and anniversary cards and birthday cards that never made it out. I did family photos and it took me 3 months to finally mail 75 %of them out. Only 7 to go. Maybe tomorrow.
So no. Plus I always wonder, do they get to know your address? I certainly wouldn’t want someone with a shady past knocking on my door. I already do my best to hide from family.

jca's avatar

@Pandora: I am with you on the “stamped cards that never made it into the mailbox” situation. I also have photos of my daughter from this summer that never made it out. Your post was funny because it’s exactly me.

marinelife's avatar

Too many prisoners are out to con people. They claim to be innocent when they are not. I would not want a prisoner to focus any interest on me or my life or to know my address.

If that means fewer letters for the few deserving convicts, I am willing to live with that.

Scooby's avatar

Not my cup of tea….. As far as I’m concerned they’re there to be corrected not mollycoddled….. The system these days is far too lenient as it is, I’m not sure communicating with prisoners is at all a good idea. A conman’s dream maybe………

Jellie's avatar

The programme I was with would actually screen the prisoners they thought would benefit from this. I don’t remember exactly but I think they also made sure that only prisoners that were in jail for relatively minor crimes were allowed it. Also you wouldn’t send your letters from your own address, you’d send it writing the return address of the programme. The prisoner would write back to their office and they would forward you the letter. I too was lazy with my letter writing but I picked up because I saw how eager he was to communicate and receive letters.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

My husband would kill me.Then I’d have a penpal ;)

linguaphile's avatar

Eve Ensler is well known for her Vagina Monologues but not many people know about her “Any One Of Us: Words from Prisons” monologues. She brought a writing program into a few women’s prisons around the country and got their stories about what led to them ending up in jail. The stories are heartbreaking to say the least and opened my eyes to who really is filling up the women’s prisons as opposed to who’s filling up the men’s prisons. Gender aside, they’re really not the same demographic at all.

I’m with Augustlan and Jill— I am a terrible, terrible correspondent so no, I wouldn’t be able to keep up with a pen-pal arrangement, but I would love to participate in one of those writing workshops as an observer or writing coach.

Hibernate's avatar

What does this mean? I don’;t get the “prisoner penpal exchange”. Please explain.

john65pennington's avatar

No way. These convicted criminals do not need or deserve to be out of their cages, for any reason, except for medical treatment.

They would love nothing more than to use this program as an avenue for escape.

Now, they are using cellphones to make anonymous phone calls to you and I.

They were sent to prison for a reason, so lets let them stay there.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

No. For the most part, I feel prisoners’ only interest in outside interaction is for exploitation- you send them stamps, phone cards, commissary credits, whatever. Until I feel I give everyone else in my life the attention they want as far as communication, prisoners who done against others can wait or write to each other.

linguaphile's avatar

If you do become a pen-pal… just don’t send polaroid photos. From one of my former students, I learned how polaroid photos can be turned into battery packs and connected to wires to power various small machines… ie. a bomb.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Hibernate you write letters back and forth to someone who is incarcerated, through a program specifically for that purpose.
@john65pennington I’m inclined to disagree with you, especially about prisoners not deserving to be let out except for medical treatment.
@linguaphile I, personally, won’t be participating. That’s useful information to know, however. Glad you shared.

Jeruba's avatar

Probably not. I’d be wary of jailhouse letters—everyone is innocent. I also know of a woman who got overinvolved through the soul-baring intimacy of letters, and it led to complications and heartache. She was an extremely bright woman who ought to have known better, but loneliness can draw a person into a world of self-delusion.

In my estimation, most people have a lot less emotional balance, common sense, and skill at detecting BS than they think they have. I’d like to think I’d be savvy, but I’m probably no match for someone with real street smarts and all the time in the world to devote to the single project of furthering their own interests.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I teach school in one! It’s really sad that they’re locked up because THEY’RE INNOCENT!! Every single one of them!

Blueroses's avatar

I think I might, as a gesture of friendship/charity but I would never mistake it for a real emotional connection.

I see it like this: If you were in a full body cast in the hospital with your only entertainment being 3 channels on TV, you might get hooked on General Hospital. Once you can move again, that drama would fail to involve you or hold your interest. An incarcerated person might attach to you emotionally as a contact with the outside but that is a limited connection.

Dutchess_III's avatar

—-btw…originally I read this question too fast. I’m going “Penis exchange??? WTH??? So I read it again, slower. :)—

Blueroses's avatar

@Dutchess_III Yep. I’m such a 13-yr-old, I still giggle whenever I hear the words “penal system”

Dutchess_III's avatar

Giggle! Penal system! Pena Colada! Giggle Giggle!

blueiiznh's avatar

If orange prison pants are involved, count me in!

athenasgriffin's avatar

I would like to think I would, but I wouldn’t. It is mostly because snail mail and I do not get along well. It it was an email exchange system, then that would be different.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I jokingly asked my students the other day what they would do if I wore the same thing every day! : )

spittingamethyst's avatar

I’m not sure if I myself would do it, but I can’t say that its a horrible idea. It gives them a friend. And it gives people an oppurtunity to learn. So. I think it would be interesting.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Could be dangerous, too.

Nullo's avatar

No. I’m a terrible correspondent.

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