New to all of this - I just have one question | Write a Prisoner

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New to all of this - I just have one question

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MHTZB
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New to all of this - I just have one question

Hey guys!

I was just wondering if you have ever initiated contact with an inmate, and gotten rejected or deselected? I know that it's different depending on what kind of person your "pen-pal" is, but have any of you ever expereinced not getting a reply back to an inmate you have tried to contact?
Thank you in advance!

Kind regards :) 

 

 

MHTZB
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*reply back from an inmate*

MHTZB
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Okay, I have major issues with my spelling today - I hope you can make some sense of it :D 

Mateo
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Nope, but I only write to one person. Just make sure you put your address on the letter so they know where to send their reply to.

FrankieBones
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Rejection happens in any relationship you might have had a person who was rude to you while you were getting your coffee this morning and so you decided not to go back. That in itself is a form of rejection. People come at this from the wrong angle a lot of the time, "these inmates are here to fulfil my needs for a penpal," sometimes they may even say, "I spent my time this person had better write back to me," that this perspective continues often a shows a person who is rude, or self-interested, or perhaps both at the same time.

Unfortunately, perception does not meet with reality, in a lot of cases people rate prisoners as something less than human. Your first point of call is to realise they are a human also with real feelings and choices also, and that letter writing can be something that gives them real choices back in their lives. One of those choices may be that for whatever reason they don't like what you wrote in your letter, or evidently, otherwise, they don't like the sound of you as a person.  That's a real and informed choice also.

Any relationship is transactional if you get rejected and you didn't want to be rejected... Oh well, such is life, so be it, move on, and find someone better to write to. Rather than trying to build a skyscraper on quicksand start with a relationship that has better foundations to begin with.

ST4s
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Well, it can happen. One of my penpals, now a good friend, was in that boat and struggling with how to handle it, how to tell someone no. "Can you imagine", he wrote, "being rejected by someone so low on the ladder? A convict? That's got to hurt." Now, I don't buy into the whole ladder argument for starters and said so. He's a great guy, but as it turned out, a little more in-demand than he thought he'd be. His solution? He kept the early responders that he clicked with, let the new ones down as gently as he could, and wrote to the folks who run this place asking to take down his post.

In this case, it was part luck-of-the-draw, part timing, but mostly chemistry - like any other social interaction. Some people click. Some don't. No harm in trying. For me, the best indication if things might take off is right there in every post: reading it thoroughly, reading between the lines, seeing if there some kind of chemistry potential there (common interests, divergent interests you find fascinating and want to learn about, however you define it). Don't let rejection stop you. This penpal thing can really blow your mind when you click with someone!

MHTZB
MHTZB's picture

@FrankieBones, thank you for your reply! I get your point, and I'll definitely have this is mind, if I decide to approach someone another time. I just wanted to hear from someone "more experienced" than I am.
Thank you @Mateo and @ST4s for your response! It's good to hear others' experiences and advice - and thank you @ST4s, I can't wait to get started! :)  

I was considering sending another letter to the "pen-pal", I found on WAP (I found him on NRM), but I don't want to bother them if they don't feel like I am person for them. Also I just recently sent an e-mail through WAP, and I don't think he has received it yet.
Should I just try sending a letter again next month, just in case, or should I try to find another "pen-pal"? Or should I just go with my gut feeling? (I always have so many questions, sorry :D )

FrankieBones
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Well... there is also a thing for waiting a little longer in the chance that they didn't get your message yet, or that they haven't had a chance to write back to you yet so keep that in mind. But don't write to someone from the same facility yet, or at all, you might annoy someone if they end up finding you're also writing to someone they don't like. People on the inside can become possessive of their pen friends and you can really upset them, or start a fight if they find out you've been writing to someone else in the same facility. There is a thing for them wanting to know what they share with you is only with you, and a level of trust you need to develop.

 

So if you do write to someone else in the meantime, make sure you don't choose someone that is in the same facility, or even the same system in the case of Federal prisons because they can get moved around a lot and chances are they will know someone who knows someone who will start a rumour or something worse. It has been known to start fights, even severe ones where other people get seriously injured or killed as a result.

MHTZB
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@FrankieBones, alright thanks! :) I have only reached out to one person so far, and I think I'll wait and see how that goes first, but thank you for letting me know!

MHTZB
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Also do you guys have ideas for topics to discuss with a pen-pal? Like which topics are a big no-no (besides what got them incarcerated in the first place)?

Kirsten
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I always did a reply, but we didn't always click. One guy I've just exchanged a single letter back and forth. No harm done - and in that case, for me: good riddance. Not wanting to sound mean, but the letter I got from him was the only one ever from an inmate I wished I had never received. Some things I'm not keen on, even more so on a first letter which could be taken as a way to introduce onesself.

Another one is writing very infrequently, so I never know whether (or when) I'll hear back from him. Not much of a big deal, either. I sent my last reply to him in Feb, didn't hear anything back since then, not sure, if I will. If I don't, that would be ok, too. It was (and is) ok, just as it is. I wouldn't say it's been superficial, the letters back & forth were not, but some ppl are more like a breeze, so if the wind moves on, happy-go-lucky. If I get a letter, whenever, I'll respond, if not, so be it. I'm not going to ask what's going on. With others I probably would, but not him. Don't ask the wind what he's chasing... perhaps just the next high.

The other four are steady and never gave me a feeling of not wanting to write (neither them to me, nor the other way around).

As for subjects to discuss: For me it always develops. I couldn't say how. I don't have lists of topics or anything.

There was sth. about the ads that spoke to me and made me write in the first place. So I introduced myself, wrote a little about my life plus referred to the ad and what appealed to me. From then on, each correspondence had its own course.       
 

Kirsten
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always did get a reply (where's the edit button again?)

MHTZB
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Thanks, @Kirsten! I'll just wait and see what is going to happen, but thank you for sharing your experience! I've only reached out to one person, but the person I sent a letter to was also someone, where the ad/bio got to me and made me want to write. I can only hope for the best, but then again, if we are not meant to be a "pen-pal match", then it is what it is, and then I'll try to see if I can be there for someone else, maybe :) 
Thanks again for sharing and letting me know! 

ST4s
ST4s's picture

Topics to discuss? For me, they kind of evolve based on the original profile, shared interests, etc., and go from there. I think a good place to start, after getting past the introductions, is with things you’re passionate about.

For example, I’m an architect, so I might talk about projects I’m working on, day-to-day challenges, triumphs, and so on. Some of my pen pals have construction backgrounds and sometimes we go off onto technical tangents which gets kind of fun, talking shop. It got super-interesting with one of my friends, a former break-in specialist. I asked for his thoughts on one project: how to make some elements less attractive as targets, more robust, kind of like a security consultant would help with, but a particularly qualified one with first-hand-knowledge and real-world experience. Who better to ask?

Another thing I’m passionate about is motorcycles and riding (though you’d never guess from my profile pic and handle, right? ;-) A recent letter I sent chronicled a long and excellent ride through the countryside. I made it a point to be super-descriptive, and stopped and took photos every now and then, and included those too, so my friend could join in the experience – a mental escape as it were (which was partly the plan, but also to share something I really enjoy). I can report it was extremely well-received.

Other topics? Trips I’ve taken, movies I’ve seen, books I’ve read, music I listen to, philosophical musings, fun things, goofy things, or just normal day-in-the-life things. If one is stuck in a box, what might seem normal to you or me could be like an oasis in the desert if you’re the one in the box.

Like any good exchange, I think it helps to keep things conversational with open-ended questions, e.g. what are you passionate about? Something engaging that begs for more than one-word answers. The replies can open doors to other doors, organically, and none of them need to be about criminal behavior – unless your pen pal wants to go there.

FrankieBones
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The easiest way to go off on a tangent is to turn a statement into a question and this is how my conversation style evolves. You have a listening ear, hear what they say and then find something interesting that relates to that, and off you go in another direction again. There is also another point here, when you talk about being stuck in a box, talking about things that are going on in your own life becomes important also.

MHTZB
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@ST4s Thank you so much! This has helped me a lot, thank you! 

@FrankieBones Okay, so any other conversation bacisally, I can do that ;) Thank you so much! 

Thank you both/all for all of your help! I feel more confident about all of this now, thanks!