Resources for writing to incarcerated people
last updated: 7.18.22
Guide by @h_myte (tw)
While fighting to abolish the prison industrial complex, we can't forget to reaffirm the humanity of people on the inside. We must work to develop empathy and understanding for people impacted by mass criminalization and center our actions and writings on their voices. By strengthening our connection to incarcerated people we can amplify incarcerated leadership, learn from their experiences, and engage with abolition in a meaningful way.
The carceral state relies on isolation as a tool for oppression and control. Writing to an incarcerated person resits the isolation, demonstrates solidarity, and helps maintain connections to the outside. Letter writing can be a space for incarcerated people to vent and receive resources and support. Receiving mail can even be a form of harm reduction. Letters are often a lifeline for incarcerated people - especially queer, trans, and gender-nonconforming individuals as well as those living with HIV/AIDS - who are more likely to experience violence and solitary confinement.
Find a pen pal and start an ongoing letter exchange with someone on the inside. Having an incarcerated pen pal can be a rewarding relationship that challenges the stigmas surrounding incarceration. An ongoing letter exchange can take the form of friendship, mentorship, offering support, collaboration, journaling - just make your intentions clear and invite conversation.
If you don't have the capacity for an ongoing letter exchange, write a general letter of support to an incarcerated person. A one-time letter sharing words of encouragement, poem excerpts, supportive messages, drawings, or general support can all make a positive impact on the mental health and well-being of someone on the inside.
Organize a letter writing event to build solidarity on the outside, take collective action, and start stepping into a more active support role for people behind bars.