Announcement: Hiatus From New Requests

Announcement: Hiatus From New Requests

IMPORTANT NOTICE

We receive over 1,000 pieces of mail each month, and are currently overwhelmed with requests from inmates and their families. Everything we do is accomplished only with the help of volunteers, small donations, and money from our own pockets. As of September 2017, we are taking a six-month hiatus from NEW INMATE REQUESTS ONLY, so that we can respond to what is already in front of us.
We care, and are dedicated to getting everyone on our waiting list (now and in the future) adopted. This temporary break from new requests will help us do that.

This does NOT apply to new adopters or volunteers – only to inmates who are not currently on our waiting list.

For anyone who has already requested a survey, please be patient while we respond – it could take several months but we will answer everyone’s request. Requests that included a self-addressed stamped envelope will be responded to first.

For inmates who have already received a survey – please complete and return (kindly write “completed survey” on the outside of the envelope.)

Inmates — Do continue to submit:

Inmate change of address (please write “COA” on the envelope)

Art / Poetry / Book Reviews / Writing submissions (please indicate on outside of envelope)

Others — How you can help:

Adopt an Inmate!

Volunteer

Donate stamps, office supplies (or cash to purchase them), to help us catch up with the hundreds of existing requests. See our Amazon Wishlist.

We will begin accepting new requests again in February of 2018, or sooner if we’re able.

Thank you for understanding.

 

Letters From Prison: Integrate Now!

zshakur for blog

We’re working to match up veterans (or active duty) on the outside, with veterans on the inside. This comes from Zion, a veteran serving time in a California prison.


 

I am a US Navy veteran and would like to see a program specifically geared towards ex-servicemen that would place us in a separate environment from mainline incorrigibles that would focus on rehabilitation, avoiding prison mentalities and re-entry preparation. Service people have a  life-long fraternity, an unbreakable bond that aids in encouragement to change. Many county jail programs are now offered for vets. I think it would really go a very long way in helping those of us in the state penitentiary.

Most of the programs in my prison are inmate-run, thus the quality is generally nil. Programs facilitated by free-staff and experts from the outside provide much better curriculum and offer greater hope.

College programs at the Bachelor’s or Graduate level would be of greatest help in making this time productive. Not every inmate fits into a “vocational training” category. Higher education would increase my chance of staying out of prison, guaranteed!

Lastly, but of incredible importance would be the ending of forced segregation in state prisons. Housing white inmates only with other whites, blacks only with blacks, etc., is a terrible holdover from bygone days that only serves to make divisions deeper, prison more dangerous, and re-adjustment to the real world that much more difficult. It effectively stifles the social development of every inmate subjected to it. INTEGRATE NOW!

Letters From Prison: Frequent Unexplained Deaths

From a prisoner in the Sing Sing facility in New York.

inmate survey

Q: Please indicate issues you would like to see addressed in your facility.

A:  Actually, everything, because management could not run a hot dog cart for a week without going out of business. Clearly they want recidivism. Keep the cells full – just like a hotel needs its rooms full. Sing Sing may be best prison in NYS, but very badly run.

Main problems are health care with ZERO education, prevention, healthy diet, age appropriate care or exercise for older men. We have frequent unexplained deaths of fairly young men. Our pharmacy is very prone to errors. After our Nurse Administrator was “fired” and arrested, they gave her another job in mental health which is technically a different agency. She kept her parking spot! Does it sound like a certain church? Educational opportunities are here only for those who fit profile of 20-25 years, above average IQ, interested in college, and no mental illness. That is about 150 out of 1600. My GED classroom has 20 seats. About 1000+ men need a GED. Obviously, this “does not compute.”

Roughly half the population has substantial mental health problems (on psych meds, zero impulse control, talking to themselves, self-medication / drug abuse, very low intelligence, illiterate in any language). Treatment of mentally ill is overmedication, zero exercise, poor diet and isolation.

For those of us who came to prison with skills and education, the problem is no opportunity to use or maintain skills. Our library is okay for fiction, otherwise zilch. Very old, e.g., vacuum tube electronics and a book on Fortran IV (might be valuable to a collector?). Car books have carburetors and crank windows.

Drug problems are major. Head in the sand about problem because “they” don’t want to explain how drugs can get through a forty-foot-high concrete wall. (Staff, of course.) Only control point is poverty of most prisoners.

Letters From Prison: Not Right at All

The letter below is from a Texas prisoner. TDCJ does not pay any of their prisoners for work, so the only way they can purchase items from commissary is if someone on the outside is able to put money on their books. TDCJ provides minimal hygiene items to indigent inmates (who have no money on their books): soap, toilet paper, and toothpaste, and for women, 1 box of pads and 6 tampons per month. No shampoo, no lotion, no deodorant (and remember Texas does not provide any air conditioning for the inmates).

It is commonly against the rules in jails and prisons for inmates to help each other by sharing commissary items or food. Each item of their property must be labeled with their name and ID number (like in elementary school). Any item found in possession of an inmate that is not labeled with that inmate’s name and number is considered contraband, and will be confiscated. This includes every piece of paper, stamp, envelope, book, hygiene, and food item. Even “special” items such as radios and typewriters (in facilities that have those items available for purchase), cannot be given to another prisoner upon his or her release, they must take it with them. The irony of this practice is that it encourages theft and hostility.

WJohnson

I have a concern about the required work we inmates do in TDCJ that goes without pay or incentives of any kind (no “work time” or “good time” is applied to our sentence, as in most other states). I feel that the Texas prison system should adopt the same plan as other states, and start paying their inmates by the hour, or by the day, which would allow their inmates to become independant, to some degree, reducing the number of inmates who are indigent. This would teach the inmates the value of a dollar earned doing hard labor, and allow them to purchase needed items from commissary for the work they do. 

Texas does not believe in rehabilitation, because if they did, they would have adopted this idea for their prisons. The Texas prison system believes in capital punishment only. And they do not want to help their inmates. They believe in allowing their inmates to suffer, they do not want to help us and they do not want anybody else to help us, inside or outside. For example: If an inmate who is indigent who never makes commissary nor gets visits, and he is not able to buy or purchase himself a Speed Stick deodorant, and some other inmate sees this man’s suffering condition and buys this man a deodorant, the inmate that helps out the poor, suffering inmate will get in trouble for helping the poor, suffering out. Now I don’t think that is right at all.