How Pen Pal Relationships Impact Prisoners

No matter how lonely, sad, or awful their lives in prison may be, there is still an effective way to improve and save the lives of prisoners—and that is through pen pal. You never know that the price of a single stamp can make a big impact on their lives in the cell.

Today, a pen pal system in prison has been operating in about 52 prisons in Wales and England. This current scheme has been found to be one of the contributing factors to the well-being of prisoners and has significantly reduced the incidents of suicide among prisoners. According to the study conducted by the University of Warwick, the pen pal system has significantly offered early warnings of potential suicide and has increased successful rehabilitation in prisons.

It has been found that pen pal relationships can relatively lead to a number of tangible benefits on the part of the prisoners. This letter-writing scheme seems to be extremely valuable in providing ways for prisoners to have greater support. With the rise of prison suicides and violence, pen pal relationships serve as genuine relationships that exhibit trust and care at a low cost.

Most of the prisoners who are engaged in pen pal relationships are males who have already been serving indeterminate, long sentences and have been experiencing no or little communication with people outside the prison.

About a quarter of the prisoners surveyed by conducted by Professor Hodgson and Ph.D. student Juliet Horne as part of the Economic and Social Research Council said that they are in no contact or communication with anyone else outside the prison before they begun writing to their pen pals. The prisoners said that the pen pal scheme helped them to:

Ease the feeling of isolation,
Change their self-identity,
Have hopes for the life that awaits them outside prison, and
Boost their joy and happiness by having a diversion from their usual routine and life inside the prison.

Basically, prison pen pals are intended to last the length of a prisoner’s sentence. 9 years have been the longest of these pen pal relationships. On the other hand, volunteers are also aware of the state of mind of the prisoners and they were able to alert those prisoners who are increasingly suicidal or depressed.

This is why the pen pal system has been positively viewed by prison governors. Aside from the fact that a pen pal makes prisoners happier and positive, it has also been proven that pen pal relationships are important to give suicide at-risk prisoners someone who will listen to them.

Pen pal relationships significantly impact prisoners in terms of growing the feeling of engagement with the world outside. Experiencing acceptance and friendship from their pen friends enabled them to look at themselves beyond just being prisoners. With pen pal,  they were given the chance to have someone outside prison who understands them and believes that they still have the capacity to change. This is very helpful for their rehabilitation.