Its always lonely during Holidays but some are worse than others!
Valentines Day is no exception...in fact many of our incarcerated folks are especially bereft at not giving or receiving love on Valentines Day than the November and December Holidays. We want to make this year better for our incarcerated family members - as we do several times a year - by creating lists of names and addresses of incarcerated members of SWOP Behind Bars! Its a simple, non-time consuming and inexpensive way of providing direct support to people who are really going through a tough time. In order to receive a list of incarcerated sex workers to send Valentines Day Greetings to - please fill out this simple form and we will get them to you as quickly as possible. Please do NOT use old lists as prisoners are moved and released with very little notice these days and we want to make sure they are received!
Getting mail while incarcerated is a BIG DEAL!
A lot of incarcerated folks have been cut off from family and friends and they get very little in the way of outside information. Getting mail can protect a prisoner from abuse by prison staff as well as other prisoners and establishing relationships with people who are cut off from society and- many times - their family - and your letters and communications can be a lifeline!
Holiday Greetings are a WONDERFUL way to support incarcerated people and its perfectly fine to just participate in our Holiday Greeting Events - but if you WANT to engage for our incarcerated members for a more tended period of time, we encourage you to become a Mentor By Mail.
More About being a Pen Pal to an Incarcerated Sex Worker
We are very appreciative of our International Pen Pals! If you live in the UK or The Netherlands or even Canada, you know it takes a long time to receive mail in the US. And its expensive! Electronic mail is a great way to communicate with your pen pal and will cost both of you a lot less as well as save a lot of time! Even if you have a spirited email exchange going - its still nice to occasionally send a picture postcard (if the prison allows) of your country or a special Holiday or Event that we might not celebrate in the US. Be sure the facility is allowing postcards before you send them out. Prisons often change their mail room rules with little notice. Your penpal is the best source of information about what is allowed at their facility.
Changing Rules for Mail are the Norm!
GLUE, GLITTER, CRAYON and STICKERS are NEVER ok! But recently there has been a lot of mail being rejected for bizarre reasons that make no sense and are categorized by the prison as "compromising the security of the facility". So here are a few tips to ensure your mail gets through. And even more importantly - it can make sure that the prisoner you are writing to doesn't get in trouble. Prison is about "punishing people" and while they may not be able to punish YOU for what they consider to be offensive mail - they very well might punish the prisoner by taking away their ability to receive mail.
Use PLAIN WHITE PAPER. Just regular copy paper - nothing that resembles stationery. You CAN create your own themed stationary, print it on the plain white paper and then write the letter on that...its fine to have colors on your letter...just no gel pens, crayons or stickers.
Use PLAIN WHITE #10 Envelopes and don't draw ANYTHING on the envelope itself. Any drawing or embellishment on the envelope is considered graffiti and will be refused.
Never send Polaroids or any material that would be considered "pornographic". Everybody's definition of porn seems to vary widely in the prison mail room but a very general rule of thumb is not to send anything you wouldn't post on your grandmothers fridge.
Don't EVER agree to contact someone on the prisoners behalf - especially if it is someone that is also in prison. This is a hard boundary. Do not look up, contact and/or share Facebook friends on behalf of your prison pen pal. There is no way to know if the person they are asking you to contact is a friend or foe and there is no way to know if there is any kind of "no contact" order for whatever reason. They may ask you to find them some sort of program or housing for when they are released but they really need to go through their prison case manager for this.
There are complete instructions for sending mail to prison facilities when you sign up to send Holiday Greetings or to be a Mentor by Mail. You can write to prisoners while being at home alone or bring together some friends and have a party! The important thing to always remember is how grateful our incarcerated members are for your participation!