Pen Pal Ministry
OUR PEN PAL POLICY
The expressed reason for this ministry outreach is to spread the love of God through the Gospel of Jesus Christ to inmates who want to share their Christian experience with like-minded people. This is not an inmate dating service; we never match up men with single women as pen pals. We will do our best to find a Christian pen pal of the same sex for inmates asking for a pen pal. If you are sharing this pen pal outreach with an inmate it would be good to share the guidelines with the him or her as well, so they do not expect this ministry to provide anything other than what is expressed in this statement.
Male inmates will only be matched with men, families or church groups.
Female inmates will only be matched with women, families or church groups.
It is our policy that neither we, nor our volunteer pen pals, send money, or search for old friends or family that are out of contact with the inmate. We have found that requests to seek people out can cause problems for those who do not want to be found by the inmate.
Note to our Pen Pals: The Pen Pal Ministry is a letter writing ministry to incarcerated men and women who may not receive letters from friends or family. In corresponding with someone who is in jail or prison, there are some important things to remember:
Do not send money to the inmate. Even though he or she may have legitimate needs, sending money can confuse the message of why you are involved. Anyone that you write to might mention a need and say, “Please pray for the financial need I have.” Do just that – pray for them. Sending money can really get out of hand and you do not know if they are using the money for good purposes or not.
Do not agree to receive collect phone calls from the inmate. This is another situation that can get out of hand quickly. An inmate can only call collect and, often, the phone rates are expensive. Many spouses of inmates have had their phone service cut off because of the cost of collect calls from jail or prison.
We do not mail out list of inmates to anyone to have a number of addresses of those incarcerated. We pair up one or maybe several inmates with one family, but not an entire list of inmates.
If you are sharing our information about the pen pal outreach with an inmate PLEASE let them know about these guidelines. Many inmate write us wanting financial support or a female for a mail inmate. If this is explained to them in the beginning it will avoid them being disappointed when we write back and share our guidelines with them
If you become involved as a Pen Pal, you can give the church address and not your home address if that concerns you. The person you are writing may lay down the envelope, or they may have shared with another inmate how kind you are, or all the other things you have shared in your correspondence. This other person, in turn, may just drop by when he gets out, so just as a precaution. There are many things that could happen, but we can prevent most of them if we are careful and take all the precautions that we can think of. Do not get too personal in your letters and do not share family disputes.
Pen pals should ideally be of the same gender or husband-wife teams. In writing, be aware of romances that could begin if men write women or women write men who are in prison. Remember, they are lonely and many have lost their spouses for various reasons. If a couple is writing, the man should take the time to be responsible to write the men and the woman should see to the letters to the women. Either way, both the spouses should read the correspondence and the inmate should be aware of that.
In corresponding with an inmate, as you get close to them, you may want to make contact with his or her family if you have not already. This may give you a better picture of the inmate you are writing. You can see if the changes the inmate is claiming are evident to his family. Hearing only one side of what went wrong in a family does not always make for true understanding.
Anyone can be a Pen Pal and a witness for the Lord; even someone who is homebound can be a blessing in this type of ministry. Plus, older people who may be lonely themselves can be blessed by a regular correspondence with a Christian inmate who may not have any family around to write them.
When I was incarcerated, I was blessed to have family write me regularly, but I also had several pen pals who I corresponded with for years after I came home.
There is a great need for positive, Christian pen pals in jail and prison ministry, and we welcome you to come alongside this ministry as a Pen Pal.