are four important ways you can contribute:
about your first letter? Don't be! Prisoners often
say how much they enjoy hearing about someone's day-to-day
activities and interests. This is often the easiest
and most important thing you can do to support people
in prison. Many say they also enjoy receiving news
articles (photocopied or printed from the web). The
most important thing is to just get the letter in
the mail. Once you send that first letter, each one
that follows will be easier to write. Send a postcard,
artwork, talk about your day, just please remember
a few things:
letters must have a return address on the envelope.
also put a return address on the letter itself,
as prisoners are almost never given the envelopes.
do not mention other nicknames you might know
not discuss their cases or anything related to
illegal activities. Keep in mind that all mail
is read by authorities.
are allowed, but must be 4x6 size or smaller.
facilities will NOT accept stamps or envelopes
mailed to prisoners. Please check with the institution.
using white-out, stickers, tape, colored ink or
correspondence and drawings may be in pencil,
standard ink pen, typewritten, or computer generated.
No felt pens, markers, crayon, or colored pencil,
personal artwork must be in black & white,
copied pages can be in color.
cards are allowed. However, you must write something
inside of the card, as blank ones will be returned.
facilities do not allow torn pages from books,
magazine or newspaper clippings. Photocopies,
however, are accepted
always remember that, even if unsolicited, mail
can still result in sanctions against a prisoner.
Despite all of the mail regulations above, there are
still plenty of things you can send to a prisoner
to brighten his or her day! In fact, with a little
effort, you can send prisoners at even the most stringent
facilities care packages. Print-outs, color copies
and pictures leave a lot
Here are just a few ideas for materials that you can
include in an envelope to send a prisoner as a care
package (keeping in mind the above mail regulations):
- Yoga Postures- many prisoners are confined to
their cells for up to 22 hours a day and have
very little access to exercise facilities. Yoga
can be practiced in a very small area and is both
relaxing and beneficial to their health. There
are many online websites that offer step-by-step
guides for you to send.
- Comics/humorous articles- breaking up the gloom
of prison always helps! Photocopy the best of
the Sunday paper's comics, or do a simple online
- Essays/Writing excerpts- ask someone who their
favorite authors are, or topics they enjoy reading
about. Again, you'd be amazed what you can find
online and this is a simple way to send prisoners
lots of reading materials cheaply.
- Word Search games- and of course, prison is
incredibly boring. Click
here to visit a site that allows you to generate
word search games with words you select!
- Describe a hike- spend the day outside hiking,
take some pictures and then send them to a prisoner
with a story about your hike. Remember that prison
is sensory deprivation to the max, so use a lot
of description (sight, sound, smell, everything...)
- Pictures- send pictures of wild places, ones
that are vivid in color and show a lot of detail.
Remember that Polaroid's are not allowed.
- Photo-copies- photocopy everything: pictures
of beautiful paintings, other artwork, large photos,
newspaper articles, book pages, zines, and anything
else you can think of.
are two ways to contribute to the prisoners' defense
and support funds: You can send donations to the support
groups (please contact the support
groups for more information) or you can put donations
directly into their commissaries. Commissary money
is very important to prisoners, as it allows them
to purchase stamps, envelopes, phone-cards, extra
food, as well as other necessities. Please consider
sending a donation! Contact their support groups or
the facility the prisoner is being housed at for specific
information. Most jails allow you to mail donations
for a prisoners' commissary, as well as make in-person
donations. For all federal institutions, such as FDC's
and FCI's, please
click here as procedures are identical and specific
to federal prisons.
books is an easy way to directly support the prisoners.
For book suggestions, please contact the various support
groups. Also, try to let them know which books you
are ordering, so that repeat orders are not made.
For all prisoners, some basic rules apply (but like
everything else, please double-check with each institution):
books must be new, paperback and come directly
from the publisher or an online distributor,
such as www.amazon.com.
Please have the books sent to the same address that
you would use to mail them letters, making sure to
include their ID number. Remember to keep the topics
of books focused away from subjects that could potentially
cause problems for prisoners, and can actually result
in the books being seized. You can also send them
reading material directly by including up to 10 pages
(photocopied front and back) in an envelope.