Radical Love Letters is an experience that connects people that are incarcerated with pen pals to create an ongoing, friendly system of correspondence.
Interested in participating?
For Pen Pals (who cannot attend in-person meetups):
- In the body of your email please send a brief message about how you heard about Radical Love Letters and why you’d like to participate. Since we at Radical Love Letters cannot proofread your letters we want to make sure your intentions are kind, honest, and genuine. The purpose of Radical Love Letters is to brighten the day of the victims of the prison industrial complex and to let them know that even though they are out of sight they are not out of mind. We support them and believe in transformative justice. So, before we provide you with the addresses we want to ensure that you’re for our cause because the emotional safety and well-being of the recipients is our top priority.
- If you can afford to get envelopes, stamps, and paper on your own then just email RadicalLoveLetters@gmail.com and put “Pen Pal (N)” as the subject line. Replace the N with the number of incarcerated people you’d like to receive the addresses for!
- If you cannot afford to get envelopes, stamps, and paper on your own then just email RadicalLoveLetters@gmail.com and put “Pen Pal (N)” as the subject line. Replace the N with the number of incarcerated people you’d like to receive the addresses for! Then, include your mailing address in the body of the email so we can mail you a kit that includes stamps, envelopes, and paper! Please allow 2-4 weeks for delivery.
Do you know an incarcerated person who would like to receive regular letters? If so, please email RadicalLoveLetters@gmail.com and 1) put “P.S. I Love You” as the subject line and 2) include their full address(es) in the body of the email!
Some Tips, Rules, and Regulations from SOA Watch:
- Always send your card in an envelope;
- Include a return name and address on the envelope;
- Be chatty and creative: send photos from your life, drawings;
- Tell prisoners what you are doing to close the SOA/ WHINSEC;
- Don’t write anything that might get the prisoner into trouble;
- Think about the sort of thing you’d like to receive if you were in prison;
- Don’t begin, “You are so brave, I could never do what you have done”;
- Don’t expect the prisoner to reply;
One of the main problems that puts people off getting involved in supporting prisoners is a feeling of being intimidated about writing to a prisoner for the first time. It is very hard to write a letter to someone you don’t know: people find that they don’t know what to say, they feel there are things they can’t talk about, or think that prisoners won’t be interested in what they have to say. Well this is a problem most of us have had to get over, so we’ve drawn up some suggestions to help you. Obviously these aren’t rigid guidelines, different people will write different letters, but hopefully this will be of some use.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Some prisons restrict the number of letters a prisoner can write or receive, and they may have to buy stamps and envelopes: and prisoners aren’t millionaires. So don’t necessarily expect a reply to a card or letter. A lot of prisons allow stamps or an s.a.e to be included with a card or letter, but some don’t. Letters do also get stopped, read, delayed, ‘diverted’. If you suspect a letter has been or will be nicked by the screws, you can send it Recorded delivery, which unfortunately costs a lot but then they have to open it in the prisoners presence. Also you should put a return address, not just so the prisoner can reply (!), but also because some prisons don’t allow letters without a return address.
WRITING FOR THE FIRST TIME
Say who you are, and if it’s relevant, say what group you are from.
Say where you heard about them and their case.
The first letter can be reasonably short, maybe only a postcard.
Obviously when you get to know people better you’ll have more to talk about.
Some people are afraid to talking about their lives, or what they are up to, thinking this may depress people in prison, especially prisoners with long sentences, or that they are not interested in your life.
Although in some cases this may be true, on the whole a letter is the highpoint of the day for most prisoners. Prison life is dead boring, and any news that livens it up, whether it’s about people that know or not, is generally welcome. Especially if you didn’t know them before they went to prison, they want to know about you, what your life is like, what you do, etc. Use your sense, don’t write about anything that is likely to get a prisoner in trouble with the prison authorities, or get you or anyone else in trouble with the police.
THEY’RE IN THERE FOR US, WE’RE OUT HERE FOR THEM
For people imprisoned from our movements and struggles it’s vital to keep them involved in the ongoing resistance – telling them about actions, sending them magazines if they want them, discussing ideas and strategies with them.