Communication is the most crucial part of staying connected while your man is in prison. You cannot expect to stay close to each other without regular, meaningful communication. Writing, calling, and visiting are the vehicles that drive you closer together. Long periods away from each other will take a massive toll on your bond with each other. Simply put, you cannot afford to take your relationship for granted while your partner is in prison!
So many people have questions about how to stay in contact with their loved one who is in prison. I hear the two most asked questions: 1. How do I email my partner in prison, and 2. What do I say when I email them? The new world of incarceration can be daunting to navigate through, to say the least. It almost seems like they make it super challenging to stay connected on purpose! I can help you figure this out. For this blog, I will stick with the first question of “how” to email.
First, do not assume that the process is the same everywhere.
Most sites have technology in place for emails through an approved tablet, but not every facility is currently offering them. Different states have their own approved mode of communication between inmates and the outside world. Then, each prison has its process for allowing emails. In addition, the county jails operate independently, so they also have their own processes for virtual communication. Add in the Federal prisons, and you have many different nuances and modes of communication. It can get super confusing and overwhelming for families trying to connect with a loved one on the inside. Don’t get discouraged, and don’t give up! Once you figure out the rules and systems for the location he is doing time, it will be much smoother to stay connected. So, step one is to contact the institution for the details.
checking out the facility’s website, as this is often the easiest way to find out what kind of technology the prison uses to manage emails. If you are unable to find the information on the website, ask your man to find out if and how you can email him. Once you know what account you need to use to send emails, you will need to set up your account on that system. This often requires that you add in a debit or credit card to cover the purchase of the email “stamps” you will use to communicate with your incarcerated partner. The cost typically ranges from .10 to .25 per email. While you are buying the stamps to send emails, don’t forget to include an extra stamp attached to your email so your loved one can respond!
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Once you have set up your account and purchased your stamps, you are ready to write. As you begin your email communication, there are a few things you should know and keep in mind:
- Do not let email become the only way you communicate. It is tempting to replace calls and visits with emails as they are an easy and less painful way to stay in contact. Resist the urge to avoid the pain and only use emails to stay connected in the gaps between visits and calls.
- All your correspondence will be monitored. If you have something private you want to share with your loved one, do it during a visit.
- Share your life and what is going on in the outside world with your loved one. They want to know how the world is changing and what is happening around you. Tell them stories about your friends and family, share the view from your bedroom window, and remind them what is waiting for them when they return home. Keeping them in the loop of what is happening at home keeps them engaged with your experiences and motivates them to do well.
- Pause emails if you find out that your man is moving to a new institution. Each prison has its own rules and may have a different tablet that manages emails. Once your loved one moves to the new site, find out how to continue your emails and then resume.
- Enjoy your time connecting with each other through emails, and avoid using emails to manage conflict. An email is never the right tool for solving disputes or airing complaints. Develop the habit of addressing conflict in person while he is in prison. These boundaries will help you create a safe and loving culture for managing conflict when he gets home. It will set a pattern in your relationship that will position you for success. Text and email are for staying connected and keeping each other updated.
Regular communication will build a strong and thriving relationship despite your time apart during his imprisonment. Do not grow weary in making an effort to connect over emails, calls, and visits. Your legacy will become one built upon the benefits of your investment in creating a healthy relationship for generations!
I am rooting for you!