Deliver hope to a loved one today
This simple 10 step process is the same one you will follow no matter where you need to send your letter: a state prison, federal prison, or county jail. Keep in mind that letters are one of the most coveted items to a prisoner. Letter deliver hope, love, and a connection to their loved ones. Once you have done this process, it gets easier to write a letter. So, my advice to you is to keep those letters going out to your loved one.
You have decided you want to write a letter to someone who is in prison, but you have no idea how to do it.
Writing a letter seems like it should be so simple, but it can become complicated very quickly. If you do not know what you are doing, your loved one might never receive your letter. The good news is that there is a process to help you make sure that your letter is received!
As you prepare to write your first letter, print off this process and check off each step to be sure you have followed all of the steps!
Here is the process of writing a letter to someone in prison:
- Look up the rules for letters. The rules might only be where to send the letter, but they might also be how big the envelope can be, how many sheets of paper you can send at once, or any other points that they have decided must be followed.
- Purchase embossed envelopes for sending your letters. I have never seen a prison or jail NOT accept a letter in an embossed envelope (the postage is already stamped onto the envelope, so no stamp is needed) I have consoled many family members when their letters with stamps came back to them because the prison would not allow the stamped envelope into the prison.
- Address the envelope completely. DO NOT ABBREVIATE ANYTHING BUT THE STATE. I do not know why this causes issues, but it does.
- Clearly write your return address on the outside of the envelope. I used a PO box or a business address for an extra layer of safety. I always included my real name—but not my home address.
- Date your letter. This is important for 2 reasons- first so your loved one knows when you wrote it and second, your letters back and forth become your family journey journal. You will want to know the dates after this experience is over.
- Start with a clear greeting– Dear…, Hi,….., My Beloved…, My Darling…… Seeing their first name in print is a rarity for prisoners. When you begin your letter with a greeting followed by their first name, it fills them with the warmth of friendship, love, and builds a connection.
- Share personal details about life on the outside. This can be events/schedules (like the sports schedules of your children), emotions you are feeling, an activity you did, or someone you recently talked with. Details about your life are important so that your loved one feels included in what is happening outside of the gates.
- Ask him about his life and what is happening inside the gates. Try to remember something they shared about a situation or opportunity and ask about it. “did you get that job you wanted?” or “were you able to work things out with your cellie?” Let him know you are interested in what is happening in his life and you were paying attention.
- Include an intimate close. By intimate, I mean saying something that means something special to the 2 of you. We always closed our letters to each other with …”We are ROCAT” To us that meant we are inseparable in our relationship, and a powerful force together. Find a phrase that matters to you and to him and use it every time. It will inspire hope and encourage him to continue to work at building his new legacy because he has people counting on him.
- Do NOT add anything to the envelope unless it is clearly stated in the institutional rules that you may include something with your letter. Some prisons allow pictures, blank paper, business cards or other small items in with letters; others do not. Back to #1—look up the rules.
Don’t forget to mail your letter as soon as you have finished writing it—he is waiting for the next dose of hope!
These steps will help you to write your letter AND make sure your loved one who is in prison will receive it.
I am rooting for you!