Letters between pen pals are almost always exchanged for the opposite purpose and with the opposite effect: connection.
The act of pen-palling mirrors the mindset shift that will be necessary to rethink how our society “does justice” on a much larger scale.
So many times counselors would say ‘I understand.’ I would look at them and tell them not to lie to me because none of you have ever gone 1 year, 18 months, 2 years without your children.”The battle for her children won’t end upon release, Sable says.
The terms of her parole will also mandate a separation from her children.
And, she writes, her “separation” extends beyond contact with her kids, and even beyond the limits of the law. “It’s not that I think I won’t be able to make a positive contribution to society when I get out,” she writes, “but the stigma I will live with for the next 22 years will possibly make me shy or frightened of judgment.
I wanted to write about action happening on the inside, action that might not be getting any attention beyond the walls, and I began writing to people in prison to find out what they were thinking.He claimed he was innocent: His co-defendant, whose fingerprints were found on the weapons, had confessed to being the sole shooter in the murder.No physical evidence against Steven was ever discovered, although he did acknowledge being at the scene of the crime.My conversations, correspondences, and relationships with prison-torn families have taught me that separation breeds more separation, that the coldness and isolation of prison breed the coldness and isolation of violence.And I think about how the one-on-one relationship, in which the prisoner emerges as a person (with thoughts, a personality, a history, hopes, dreams, nightmares), might serve as a model for the beginnings of a person-based, connection-based justice system.She responds promptly in round, clear print: “I am 26 years old and a mother to 3 beautiful children.When you talk about disconnected—I was shut off from my children from April 4, 2010 until just this month, March 2013.Over the past eight years, I’ve corresponded with a couple of dozen pen pals in prison.The “use” of pen-palship has made itself visible in small and large ways over the course of these loosely threaded friendships.Sometimes, a piercing phrase will spring up out of the envelope—a truth that will never leave my mind.At other times, a prisoner will contribute a vital bit of information that proves unavailable anywhere else.I write Sable for her perspective on what happened.sking prisoners for their “side of the story” can be an awkward affair, something it doesn’t even make sense to do unless the incarcerated person initiates the conversation.After all, the story is just one of each prisoner’s stories—the act for which they’re incarcerated doesn’t define them—and the last thing a pen pal should be doing is implying that.he term “pen pal”—sweetly alliterative and quaint—may evoke images of doomed summer camp relationships, international exchange student assignments, and 1950s schoolgirls writing letters to soldiers with fountain pens.