No More Prison Pen-Pals?

Discussion in 'Up to the Minute' started by VespaElf, Jul 29, 2009.

  1. VespaElf

    VespaElf Little Miss Showcase(runner-up)

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    MIAMI – In her online profile, Paula Jones says she is 42, "nonjudgmental" and likes fishing, gardening and cuddling. There's a catch, though. Jones' picture shows her in her blue Florida prison uniform. She won't be out until at least 2010.

    Her listing is posted on a Web site called WriteAPrisoner.com. She's looking for a pen pal.

    "If you're looking for someone genuine and true, I'm looking for you," her profile says. "I'm just a stamp away."

    By posting her profile, however, Jones is breaking a rule. Florida officials have banned inmates from having the Match.com-style listings, saying prisoners just create problems for their outside-the-pen pals.
    Other states — Missouri, Montana, Indiana and Pennsylvania — have similar restrictions. Now lawsuits in Florida and elsewhere say the bans are unfair and violate First Amendment rights.

    "The public knows when they're writing to these people that they're prisoners," said Randall Berg Jr., a lawyer representing two pen pal groups — including Florida-based WriteAPrisoner.com — that have sued in the state. "Nobody is being duped here."

    WriteAPrisoner.com president and owner Adam Lovell says the bulk of the people who use his site to write to inmates are from religious groups, military people stationed overseas and others affected by the prison. Fraud isn't as widespread as Florida corrections officials suggest, he said.........................

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090729/ap_on_re_us/us_prison_pen_pals


    I didnt even know some states had laws against this!! Personally I have a problem with 'writeaprisoner.com'as it allows total scum of the earth like Richard Allen Davis to advertise for pen pals........I wish EVERY state had a law against inmates using online advertising .Im sure the laws in the handful of states will get overturned<sigh>
     
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  3. southcitymom

    southcitymom New Member

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    I guess I can see both sides of this, but as a general rule I understand prisoners wanting penpals. I believe it's a good thing to offer friendship and support to people who will spend most or much of their lives in jail. The internet seems like a natural way to connect prisoners wanting penpals and people wanting to correspond with prisoners.

    I didn't know there were any laws against this either, but I have a hard time believing those laws will stand.
     
  4. VespaElf

    VespaElf Little Miss Showcase(runner-up)

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    It is difficult SCM.......I can see both sides too.IMO in a "perfect" world SOME prisoners could be allowed but OTHERS (murders,molesters etc)wouldnt be allowed but thats "unfair" & wouldnt hold up just as these laws wont.
     
  5. Nova

    Nova Active Member

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    At least with a site called "writeraprisoner.com" there is zero chance that some naif on the outside won't know s/he is writing to a felon.

    And isn't that the best solution: full disclosure?
     
  6. southcitymom

    southcitymom New Member

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    I think I would just be more in favor of letting grown adults make their own decisions about whether or not to become involved with someone in prison (regardless of the crimes that person has committed).

    I don't think this needs to be legislated. I don't agree with limiting an inmate's communicative contact, though I am not saying we need to provide every prisoner with a laptop and 24/7 wireless access! Just - I don't see a problem with letting anyone reach out via the Web for writing pals.

    It's an interesting subject and I appreciate your posting the link!
     
  7. wonders

    wonders My opinion's may not alway's be right but they are

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    The majority of people who are in prison are there for a reason. I think they have way to many rights as it is. I think they should be moving big rocks from one place to the other and back again every day for their intire sentence. Maybe on Sunday if they behaved themselves I'd let em go to Chapel all day and I do mean ALL DAY. Maybe then they would be too tired to cause any trouble and whine or even have time to think about writing a letter.
    I for one am so sick and tired of hearing how bad they have it. Well, if they had been good citizens in the first place they wouldn't be there.
     
  8. akashana

    akashana New Member

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    Back in 1984 when I was in college I bought an issue of Rolling Stone and read an ad in the back from an inmate in an Ohio penitentiary. He was requesting pen pals. I was in Louisiana, and a bit homesick for my Ohio roots, and thought that I could relate to him, so I mailed him a letter. It turns out his ad prompted hundreds of responses, too many for him to actually be able to afford the postage to answer all, so he gave my letter to a buddy in jail and he answered it. We struck up a correspondence that lasted for years. He was doing time for distribution of marijuana at the time, although he was paroled and went back in for violating parole for getting in a bar fight. I like to think that my letters had a positive effect on him; at least he told me that they did. In 1986 when I became pregnant with my daughter, every single person in my life, including my daughter's father and my own mother, encouraged me first to get an abortion, and then later to choose adoption. Everybody except my inmate penpal, who encouraged me to have and keep my baby, and even offered to have his father send me money to live on (which I refused). I consider his words on paper to have been the turning point that made me cancel my appointment for an abortion at a New Orleans clinic, and I'll never forget sitting there in the dying winter sunlight beside the lagoon in Audobon Park, reading his words that told me yes, I could do this, make it as a single mom, raise a child that would be healthy and well-loved. It literally changed my life and I will forever be grateful to him for that.

    This guy never asked me for money, and he often sent me little things he made in jail, a bracelet made from a stainless steel welding rod, a pair of moccasins, a braided anklet. and many, many beautifully hand-drawn cards. I bought him a pair of high top sneakers once, and that's the most I ever spent on him. I considered him my friend. When Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, he was long out of jail and we had lost touch with one another. He went through the Red Cross and contacted me to find out if I was okay. He was a groundskeeper then at an Ohio country club, not making a lot of money, but he sent me $100 to help me through the recovery process.

    I'm sure my case isn't typical, and that scams abound and people's motives aren't always pure. I can only relate what happened to me, and share my story so that people can understand that not everyone who is incarcerated is a vicious animal. People make terrible mistakes and errors of judgment every day, and some get caught and some never do. Simply being locked up shouldn't automatically mean a person is stripped of their humanity. Some can and do manage to be positive influences on others and contribute to society, and I think that they should be allowed the opportunity to do so.
     
  9. southcitymom

    southcitymom New Member

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    Thanks so much for sharing your story. I actually don't think it is completely atypical - I know a few people with penpals in prison. I think it is a wonderful thing to do - a ministry (often for people on both ends of the letter). People in prison are villified and marginalized like few other groups in our country. The whole "it's okay for me to hate them and they deserve it because they are in prison" attitude is repugnant to me.

    I'm a law-abider these days, but I have broken more laws than I can shake a stick at in the course of my life (most of them surrounding drugs and alcohol). I was lucky I never wound up in jail and I am grateful every day that I did not.

    Rights like this come down to how you feel overall about people who find themselves behind bars (whether they deserve it or not). Like you, I believe "those people" are still humans and need friendship, support and kindness.
     
  10. PMLsmom

    PMLsmom Active Member

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    They get cable TV, I - a law abiding citizen - am going to have to turn ours off due to the economy. They get three meals a day - in my house, only my son gets three meals a day. They get TOO many rights. I guess they should have thought about pen pals instead of raping, murdering, stealing the things from hard working people who EARNED that stuff, and I could go on. Drug dealers - I guess I could become one and keep my cable, feed everyone filet mignon, get some bling - I know the risks.

    Yet I have CHOSEN to stay out of jail/prison, and follow the laws. They deserve a cell, bologna sandwiches, and maybe a good book...That's all.
     
  11. SeekingJana

    SeekingJana Active Member

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    Back to the subject, which isn't about any poster's financial status but the site allowing or promoting the exchange of the written word between the incarcerated and the non- incarcerated.

    As long as the inmates are screened to eliminate sexual offenders, and as long as it can be monitored to ensure that only adults in the public sector are answering the ads and not minors, I think the interaction has the ability to be positive.

    One of the basic characteristics of mankind is that we thrive and are made more whole, made better in social, supportive situations and are emotionally deprived and changed when we are isolated from the feelings and rapport with others.

    As long as controls are in place so that neither party either exploits or is exploited, I think this is a beneficial endeavor.
     
  12. southcitymom

    southcitymom New Member

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    I like this post, SJ, but am curious as to why you would eliminate sexual offenders? Why should they be excluded from benefiting in the same ways that you say other prisoners could benefit?
     
  13. SeekingJana

    SeekingJana Active Member

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    Because I, along with MOST of my colleagues, do not believe that sexual offenders ever stop offending or wanting to offend. Therefore, one would be corresponding with a person, who, when out of prison, will re-offend, and while in prison, has no methodology for rehabilitation. I would not care to engage in a pen pal situation with someone I believed was not rehabilitative, and with whom the correspondence itself might well be exploitive in nature against the person with good intentions to help an inmate feel less lonely. I don't want sexual offenders to feel less lonely.

    I know you are ultra-liberal, and I respect our differences. This is my position, however, and it is not open for debate. I have stronger beliefs about the non- rehabilitative potential of sex offenders, beliefs which are all based upon professional empirical data, than I do any other possible topic of discussion on WS.

    Sincerely,
    Maria
     
  14. southcitymom

    southcitymom New Member

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    LOL - I would never describe myself as ultra-liberal, though I am left-leaning in my politics!

    Thanks for your response.
     
  15. OneLostGrl

    OneLostGrl I'm going against the grain- I'm going sane

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    Whatever it's called.. I am, as always, a tad envious of your forgiving and accepting nature. You are like my hero in that regard, I hope to get there some day, I really do. You give me hope! :blowkiss:
     
  16. MissieMt

    MissieMt New Member

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    I have my own opinions but today I'm deciding I won't allow this thread to get me riled up.
    All I can say is that I had NO earthly idea that such websites existed!!! Seriously, I had heard of people writing to people in prison, and I always wondered how they made initial contact. Now I know, lol.
     
  17. lightwaveryder

    lightwaveryder New Member

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    i agree with some of what you wrote.
    i have two relatives who were murdered. i don't get to write them. they don't get to write me. who will address that?

    violent offenders (rapists, murderers, victimizers) should not even be able to write, the fact that they CAN write, or think, or breathe, speaks to our inability correctly administer justice. if one person is in the ground, the other should be as well, anything else, is not justice. this is the ONE and ONLY area where i agree with muslims. they have no sympathy, you commit a violent crime, violence comes to you. i wish we were more like them in this aspect. i've never heard of anyone trying to get back into an arab prison for the treatment.


    ~lightwaveryder~
     
  18. mysteriew

    mysteriew A diamond in process

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    Should prisoners be allowed to interact on the internet? When I think of that question, I think of Charles Manson. He never killed anybody. He just had a following that he instructed to go forth and kill. Those were people that he saw every day, interacted with. And he managed to convince them that their calling was to create mayhem and murder.

    Now Charlie, like anyone else was limited in his ability to recruit by his physical limitations. He could only meet so many people, could only begin to work his ideas on so many people. What would have happened if he had been on the internet? Considering that he is now in prison, do we really want to go there?

    Someone will say that Charlie is only one man, the exception maybe. But there are hundreds, maybe thousands more like Charlie in prison. They were sent to prison because they committed a crime. Many are manipulative, some are even sadistic. And if they weren't so before they went to prison, they sometimes become so.

    Now I guess we could spend the money and set up programs that work with and identify those offenders who are likely to scam, fraud and harm others and attempt to prevent those offenders from participating on the internet. That could work I guess, probably at least as well as the programs we have that identifies the sex offenders who are most likely to reoffend. Which IMO don't work.

    Not every offender is going to be violent, not every offender is going to reoffend. And not every offender will continue to reoffend after their release. But the thought of the number of people who could be harmed through this scares me. Because how do you judge whether this is the type of person who will not reoffend in a weekly letter. You wouldn't have daily actions, tone of voice and all the other clues to go on. How do you judge if this person is going to scam or become violent? Do you just trust in luck?

    How about women who develop prison "romances" with prisoners? Then one day the prisoner gets released. I tell you, it is scary to me.
     
  19. SeekingJana

    SeekingJana Active Member

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    I'm sorry for your loss. I'm sorry for the grief and also the anger you have. I hope you can learn that loving your lost one means that you have to let go of the anger. I mean this with all kindness and understanding of how our souls heal.

    As for the non- communication you advocate, most of the people who are looking for friendship or someone on the outside to talk with via postal mail, at least in Texas are eligible for parole on a stated date. ( I went to the Texas section and the ones Texas allowed to participate were not on death row or lifers.) This means that they WILL get out of prison.

    Had you rather have bitter, angry, vengeful prisoners released into society or had you rather have men and ( I guess a few women) released who have kept up with " the world outside" to some extent through non-sexual pen pal correspondence, who feel more in touch with the people around them, the lingo, the trends of the world? It has been proved that people who are not isolated from the changing trends of everyday life adjust much better to re-introduction into society than those who were isolated. ( The study was done with POWs but the concept is valid).

    People who feel SOME connection to other human beings are much less likely to hurt others or to feel persecuted and belittled when they are released. I know you may not care and I understand this, but the feeling of being bullied by society or lost in the system of general society causes immense frustration and leads to recidivism in many cases where there is poor or negative social and family support.
     
  20. Trino

    Trino Active Member

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    Don't these prisoners have family, relatives, or friends? Why do they need a pen pal?
     
  21. southcitymom

    southcitymom New Member

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    Many of these types of relationships were formerly established by church groups and other ministries. Family and friends often "give up" on a person who lands in jail - sad but true.
     

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