Penpal Support Team serves two major functions:
Coordinate regular in-person and virtual penpal matching events to get free world folks matched to our inside family who are requesting penpals. Inside penpals send us introduction letters, which we log in the database and bring to matching events. Free world people get to look through the letters at each matching and choose a penpal. PST also provides a brief introduction at each matching event, including a Prison Abolition 101 and some best practices and guidelines for writing someone who is currently incarcerated.
PST provides ongoing support for free world penpals as they navigate any joys and challenges that may arise while corresponding. We want to make sure you feel confident and have the tools you need to maintain a healthy relationship with your new friend!
Correspondence with our inside family is the heart and soul of our work. As one of our free world penpals said about writing and visiting their inside penpal: "To be a lifeline: Last month my friend and I visited her pen-pal who's serving a life sentence at a maximum security facility in Illinois. He looked us in the eyes and told us that we absolutely could not understand how important it is to be a pen-pal to someone on the inside. The mental gymnastics that he goes through to maintain his sense of self while confined to a cell 23 hours per day is, quite frankly, unimaginable to those of us who have not experienced incarceration. He didn't come out of the womb intending to spend the rest of his life behind bars, he told us, and needs love just like any other human. He told us our letters are his lifeline. We were his only visitors all year."