Under What Circumstances... | Write a Prisoner


Under What Circumstances...

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loe31's picture
Under What Circumstances...

Under what circumstances would you cease communication with an inmate without further comment? What are your deal breakers?

Ta.Pe's picture

I would immediately break off the contact if my penpal would write to me in a sexual way or if it would become offensive. I would write a letter that I don't want any more contact, but that was it.

I think however there everyone has so its own borders.

Northernyank's picture

Anything offensive, sexual or illegal, would make me cease communication and has.

loe31's picture

Thanks Northern and Ta.Pe! How do you each feel about overt requests for money or items that would cost you money?

Mateo's picture

My penpal has asked me for a book that was around $140. I just told him straight that I struggle for money as it is, and can't afford to be splashing out on him when I need the money for myself. I was nice about it, and his response was nice also. But to answer your question, I don't really see a way in which my pal could have me cease any communication. I already told him I'm riding with him till the end, as he will with me, and I'd like to keep to that. However, I guess if he told me he wants to stop communicating, then obviously that would lead me to end it. But yes, everyone is different and has a different motive for why they write to their pal.

loe31's picture

Totally Mateo! I get that. I should’ve specified in my question, with a new correspondence (I’m talking one or two letters/messages in) where you don’t really know the person or their motives yet, would your opinion change? Like had your pal asked you for that book within a letter or two would you feel the same?

Mateo's picture

I feel like it just depends on the inmate you're writing to. Whether it be after 1 letter or after 40 letters, I would base my communication on how they are as a person. If they were only looking for handouts (money, items, etc) and were quite clearly only using you for that - I would cease communcation.

I guess I look at it like this:
If I feel like they would cut me off for not buying them an item - then I would cut them off.
However, if I feel like they're writing to me for more than just my money, but are asking for items/money - then I would tell them I'm not the right one to ask, but I would keep communication.

It just depends on the person overall, and I also depend on my penpals just as much as they depend on me, so I try not to be so quick to judge them and end communcation over little things. If that makes sense! But yes, it is very normal to end writing letters with people for things stated above.

loe31's picture


Yep it makes sense. I mean “little things” are subjective and I think it’s possible to be self-preserving without being judgemental but I get what you’re saying for sure. Thanks for your responses! I guess the only thing I’m curious about is how you (meaning the global “you”! This question could be for anyone reading!) can tell whether they’re writing for friendship or financial/material gain if they’re consistently asking for things?




Mateo's picture

I guess you never really do know for sure but a few factors to take note of:
- Is it all they talk about? Or do they indulge in regular conversations with you and don't just straight up ask you for things
- How would they react to denial? Would they cut you off or write/act differently if you didn't give them money/items...
- What does your gut tell you? Your instinct is usually quite good. If you feel like they're using you for gain, then they very much could be.

But that's just my 2 cents. Hope all works out for you and you get the answers you're looking for!

@nderson's picture

"Under what circumstances would you cease communication with an inmate without further comment?"
I would not end communication without stating the reason. I hate when people do that to me, so I wouldn't like to do it to others.

"What are your deal breakers?"
Not sure yet. I didn't drop any penpal until now. I will only know when it happens.

zaneta's picture

"Under what circumstances would you cease communication with an inmate without further comment?"
If they were to threaten harm to me or any of my loved ones. though it would be a follow up with the prison to tell them about the situation.

"What are your deal breakers?"
Not sure. If I found out after that they did a crime that involved a child, I would start really thinking if I could continue, though I do some research up front to make sure thats not the case. or maybe if i find that they are super racist and are putting others down all the time, but i would reach out in this case to ask them to stop.

Xo50's picture

Them talking about doing drugs or committing violence would end the correspondence for me.  I absolutely don’t want to hear that kind of stuff.  If it’s about them getting sober or regretting their past actions, huge difference.  I would write a letter just saying some stuff they brought up wasn’t my scene, and I can’t write to them anymore.  My pen pals are very respectful of boundaries.  I’ve never sent money to a pen pal or been asked.  I did send a good bit of money to my two friends who were in the system that I knew irl, but honestly, I’d never do that with a pen pal I didn’t know on a different, deeper in person long time friend level.  And they had done so many nice things for me in my lifetime, it didn’t feel like I was being used or anything, I insisted they take it.  It just doesn’t seem like it would fit with the type of friendship I have with my pen pals, though.  I would like to send my pen pals books at Christmas, though.  I’d ask their permission though first before sending book as a gift.  We’re all about staying in the comfort zone.


Kirsten's picture

I don't know if I really have anything that would make me "ghost" a person, stopping contact completely w/o saying a word. Probably not. Probably someone would really have to threaten me to make me act like that - and I've never had this done to me by my pps.

I did have one situation in real life where I felt physically intimidated & threatened by someone when I was a teen. But that was sth. for the police & I told them (and my father) bout it. Never seen my old man getting so angry, neither before nor any time afterwards and that guy did get the msg. My father wasn't mincing words with him and the cops were quite clear also.

But anything else than threats of violence or trying to use it? I guess, no.

lamorena's picture

I don't think I could cease communication without giving them a reason first. I have had a few penpals since I started writing inmates, and have stopped contact with most of them. I gave them the courtesy of telling them why.

Deal breakers? There's quite a bit, but the ones that I found that came up the most was the inmates who wanted to use me as their personal assistant or cash cow. I wouldn't stop contact as soon as a 'favor' was asked of me, I would decline and tell them I'm not comfortable/not in the position to do what they asked of me. They wouldn't push it any further at the moment, but would ask another 'favor' of me weeks later. I cut contact once I realized that they weren't going to respect my decisions and were going to try to gain something from me at any cost. 

Cleo95's picture

Probably the only thing that would stop me from contacting them would be if they were racist in any kind of way. If I’m being honest, I think if they were to ask for money, depending on the relationship we’d built, I wouldn’t be opposed to sending a few dollars here and there. If I couldn’t then I’d be upfront about it see their reaction to my refusal. But money wouldn’t be a deal breaker for me.  If they were interested romantically, I’d be upfront about that too and wait for their response to see whether or not to end the friendship. But I agree with @Anderson I don’t think I’d ghost anyone! I imagine it would be shitty to do that to someone. 

KateAndrews's picture

I tell my penpals straight if I don't like something in their correspondence with me I will ignore it and move the conversation on, whether it's sexual, vulgar or request for money. Not much sways me. If they persist I tell them straight to stop. Although I have never had to do that yet. Because the message is there in the first/second correspondence.
Lay down the rules first and they'll respect you. If they don't respect you and break your trust then their not much of a friend/penpal in the first place. Are they?