Why Is Having a Pen Pal in Prison Appealing to Some People?

Originally Published March 10, 2020

You may have heard about prisoners who were able to build friendships outside even when they are locked behind bars. Some inmates who were lucky enough, even found the love of their life while serving jail time. Some got married, and some of them even got kids. (Related: Sample Love Letters to Your Boyfriend in Jail)

Thanks to prison penpal schemes who made it possible. Inmates were able to link themselves to the outside world.

But as great news as this can be for inmates, some people can’t help but wonder, why do some people find it appealing to have a pen pal in prison? What’s in it for them?

While these schemes are already a thing for quite a long time, you may still wonder why some people write letters to random prisoners.

In general, writing letters can be simple. But writing letters for inmates can be hard for some, especially with the stigma that associates with it.

Here are some of the reasons why some people find it appealing to have a pen pal in prison.


Prison makes incarcerated people feel isolated and disconnected. And for former prisoners, keeping in touch with their fellow inmates is something that they have to do, willingly.
A former prisoner, Rev. Jason Lydon of Boston, knows the value of outside ties firsthand. He says that for people who have been incarcerated, like him, the pen pal process serves as a reminder to not forget the folks who are left behind. And that they have a responsibility to maintain relationship and compassion with those people, to join in their healing process.

An inmate writing a letter to his pen pal.


You may not believe it, but there are professionals, educated, and compassionate people who have inmate pen pals.

These supportive and non-judgmental people want to hear the prisoner’s side of the story. They want to know why they did it, and if they really did it.

They want to understand more about the inmates’ life inside prison walls. And they want to know how hard it is for some of the inmates to move forward while their own families already forgot about them.


While some tend to have a hidden agenda on why they converse with prisoners, others are just genuinely interested in having a pen pal in prison.

For them, getting to know another person, whether they are convicted of a crime or not, can be one of the most fulfilling and transformative things to do in life.

Talking to another human being who is convicted of a crime only adds a little spice to it. While it is intriguing and challenging to them, talking to incarcerated people can be exciting and makes them happy.


According to one study from the University of Warwick, the prison pen pal relationship has lots of benefits for inmates. It helps the inmates to boost their well-being.

It not only provides an early warning of potential suicide but receiving jail mail postcards on a regular basis also improves the chances of successful rehabilitation.

Prison pen pals provide more significant support for prisoners. Most of them can have genuine relationships of care and trust. According to the study, inmates were able to feel less isolated and make changes to their self-identity. (Related: Why Does Writing Help Inmates Cope With Life Behind Bars)

Moreover, prison pen pal relationships help the inmates to distract themselves from the routine of prison life and raise their hopes for life beyond prison.


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Franchette Agatha an author for GlobalTel


Franchette Agatha Jardin believes that everyone has the capacity to help those who are in need. She writes blogs about issues and news surrounding those in prison in the hopes of restoring a little extra faith in humanity.