|“NUMBERS OF LETTERS PERMITTED
The prisoner may write and send
as many letters as they wish to any person. However,
CSD will only supply materials and postage for them
to write and send one letter with a maximum of four
A4 pages in length per week. If the prisoner wishes
to write and send more letters, but he/she does not
have enough materials for those letters, he/she can
request CSD for the supply and the payment of the cost
should be furnished from the prisoner’s earnings. We
would suggest that you try to make a commitment to write
once every 2 weeks without fail if possible. If you
do not have time to write a letter, a colorful or funny
postcard is often much enjoyed. Birthday cards and cards
for other occasions are appreciated more than is imaginable.
If you go away please take the name and number of your
prisoner with you. He will probably enjoy receiving
postcards and to know you are thinking of him and that
he has not been forgotten.
WHY THE PRSIONER DID NOT REPLY
There are many reasons why a prisoner
may not reply to your letters. Here are some: Each prison
periodically gives us a list of prisoners who receive
no visits. However they may already receive mail from
family and friends. In your first letter, you might
ask if he/she is interested in writing to you, and that
if not, you understand.
Prisoners are sometimes transferred
to another prison without notice, and we are not notified
of the transfer. It takes time for the CSD to forward
letter from where prisoner stayed to his/her current
location. So, it is possible that you may not receive
a reply from a prisoner very soon.
As you can imagine, prison is a
depressing place to be. The first months there are a
shock to the prisoner, and even the time leading up
to the release date can be depressing, because many
are uncertain about their future. During the long period
in between, sad things can happen. Your correspondence
may be going well, and suddenly a prisoner’s spouse
moves to Canada or wants a divorce, a parent dies on
letters to family go unanswered. Some prisoners find
it helpful to talk about their problems, while others
cannot bear to have them mentioned. If a prisoner suddenly
stops writing after a friendship has been established,
please don’t give up right away. He/she may feel abandoned
by all friends and relatives so here is your chance
to show that you still care. Prisoners are given few,
if any, choices. Let him know that in this case the
choice is up to him, that you enjoy writing but that
you will respect his wishes. Even when no special problems
come up, some prisoners stop writing after a few letters,
simply because nothing new ever happens in the prison
to talk about, and they think their letters must be
boring. Did you ever notice how most men could talk
about work, politics, sports, women etc. etc, but never
about their feelings? Women seem to find it easier to
let their feelings out, but most men find it very difficult.
If you can, let the prisoner know that they can do that
with you, but don’t force it. All you can do is be available
as a friend.
If the correspondence is not working
out, or if for some other reason you wish to stop writing
to the prisoners, PLEASE inform us so that we can find
a replacement. The prisoners who need pen friends are
those who have already been abandoned by family and
friends. Let us not abandon them again! If one of your
prisoners is released and you wish to write to a new
one in his/her place, do let us know and we’ll supply
one. We have quite a waiting list!
WHAT ADDRESS TO USE
You can send your letters directly
to the prisoner, but we strongly advise that for the
return address you use the Prisoners’ Friends’ Association
address. This means that you do not have to reveal your
own address to the prisoner and this is for your own
safety. Although you may trust your own prisoner, you
are not sure who else may gain access to your letters.
So, we advise you, when you write your first letter,
remember to ask the prisoner to reply his letters to
our official address. Make sure he will write your full
name on the envelope. You may, if you wish just use
your Christian name and not reveal your surname. When
your prisoner replies to your letter, the PFA will forward
them to you unopened.
We strongly suggest that you don’t
do the following:
- Don’t initiate inquiries about
his crime. If he wants to tell you he probably will,
in time. When we send you his name and number we will
not tell you the crime for which he has been convicted.
It is important that the prisoner should be given
the opportunity to start up a normal friendship. Normally
when we make friends with someone we are not told
all the bad things about their past!
- Don’t become too personal or
become personally involved. Sign your letters with
something like - with best wishes, your pen friend,
Be very careful about promising
your prisoner anything. Don’t promise a job or anything.
It is better to promise nothing than to promise and
then not to fulfill that promise.
Be FRIENDLY without being
too personal. Be OPEN AND TRUSTING without
being naive. Be PRACTICAL AND CARING AND CONCERNED