If you would like to correspond with one of the victims of preemptive prosecutions in the U.S. prison system, please email: prisoners@civilfreedoms.org. Kindly include a short personal biography along with your address and contact information. A list with the names and addresses of prisoners will be sent to you.

Choose to be a pen pal today. Make a difference in the life of a human being who may have been punished for his beliefs. Thank you.

Why write a prisoner?

Prison is a very harsh experience since the prisoner is isolated from his family, friends, and community. It’s especially difficult when the person feels that he is innocent and is being punished for his religious or political beliefs. Connecting with the outside world gives the prisoner extraordinary strength to feel human and cared for. Do not underestimate the power of the words when one feels abandoned and forgotten. Some prisoners, especially in the CMUs, under SAMs, in solitary confinement or in the Supermax facilities are literally alone and subjected to tremendous psychological stress.

Below are some selected quotes from prisoners on the significance of receiving letters from pen pals. (The names of the prisoners are withheld.)

“One cannot fully understand the therapeutic effects one receives from correspondence with his or her peers on the outside.”

“Despair, disappointment, anger, frustration, hopelessness and heartache wake us up in the morning and put us to sleep at night. We have become the forgotten, the faceless, the overlooked, the unwanted, and the unloved.”

“In here a friend’s letter is worth more than gold. Although I’m surrounded by people 24 hours a day, I often feel as if I’m here alone.”

“Mail is the only thing to look forward to in here…”

“I’ve been in for quite some time now, 10 years to be exact, and it has been so lonely. My heart aches to care again, and I long to know that someone cares for me.”

“At this very moment while you are reading this, I am trapped in my concrete cell wishing and hoping and praying that you’ll decide to write me. I am extremely lonely and I need friends.”

“Prison has taught me the true meaning of loneliness – what it means to be separated from everything that’s real… My struggle is not to become a product of this environment…”

“It gets lonely in here at times. I thought I had a lot of friends. But when something bad happens, like going to prison, you come to realize those so-called “friends” weren’t friends at all…”

“Nobody cares. You should see the faces of the hundreds of men who wait expectantly day after day at mail-call…”

“The worst solitude is to be destitute of a sincere friendship!”

“I’m terribly lonely. Whenever the mailman passes my door, which is often, my heart sinks to new lows.”

“Throughout my life I’ve endured much, and have learned how to adapt and deal with most of it, but learning how to master loneliness has always found a way to elude me.”

“My friends and family outside of prison have all disappeared. Everyday is a struggle to retain an ounce of dignity. I don’t seek pity. I ask you to remember that prison is a very lonely place. Having someone willing to listen, confide in and be an outside source of strength will help to make prison life bearable.”

“Prison has taught me to never take things for granted, and that, for me, starts with people, and real friendship. I am striving towards getting myself back in the real world and I could sure handle meeting some positive people on the right side of the fence (“the real world”) to help me stay positive.”

“…year after year the letters dwindle to zero, and I am thinking, ‘Sure would enjoy a shout at mail call today’…”

“I often sit in this empty cell and reflect on life – life inside of these walls, life outside of these walls, and I fight the impossible battle of trying to figure out exactly where it is that I fit in. The fact, plain and simple, is that I need a friend to help me bridge this gap…”

“I’m in a place where friends are hard to come by… I thought I could do time by myself, but I was wrong, so now I’m reaching out in the hope of finding someone who can take away the loneliness.”

“I refuse to accept this graveyard of broken promises and rusting dreams as a way of acceptable life for myself… and as I stand looking out through these bars, again I feel the loneliness and frustrations which are the constant companions of men inside these walls. Just another nameless statistic?”

“Corresponding helps me shrug off the dark mood of despair which threatens to beset my spirit.”

“Living one’s life in prison is a very unpleasant thing whether a person is actually guilty or innocent of whatever offence(s) that they’ve been alleged to have committed. Some of us have loving and caring family members who give that needed support to help us cope with the storms within our incarceration, and some of us don’t, but everyone needs a friend…For corruption, hatred, ignorance, sin, crime and violence is everywhere in this world no matter where we are. But even more so in prisons which is a totally different world… However, there are some truly caring people in this world. For there are no words that can express how good it feels to know that there is someone who cares.”

“Having someone to write to and talk to in prison can make all the difference in the world.”