Do you have a loved one in jail?
This separation can make you feel disconnected from them and unsure about how to support them. But, they may need you now more than ever.
Though it may seem like people surround them, this does not in any way make up for the relationships that they feel isolated from. According to research, loneliness negatively impacts mental health, adding to anxiety, depression, and more.
Let this person know that you care so they feel your love in the absence of your presence. Read on to learn six ways for showing support to somebody locked away.
1. Write Letters
If somebody you know goes away to jail or prison, write them letters. Getting mail will brighten their day and remind them that people still love them on the outside.
Not sure what to write about?
Inquire About Them
Do not assume you know how they feel or that they will not have anything to share with you. During this time, they probably understand their feelings better than ever since they sit with them so often.
Ask them how they feel in general. You may also ask how they feel about the crime they committed.
Show interest in their day-to-day life. Inquire about new friends, what kind of jobs they perform, and if they picked up a new hobby, like drawing, working out, or reading.
Ask about any changes in their beliefs about life. Encourage them to write back about personal growth and future plans for when they get out.
Talk About Your Current Life
Write about current things going on in your life. Tell them big news about the people they know.
You might also focus on your personal growth and any inner work you're doing. This may inspire them to do the same if they have not already.
Bring up memories that make you light up. Keep it light and happy as to not upset them more.
Use this as an opportunity to tell them what you miss about them. This eases loneliness.
2. Answer Calls
Inmates only receive a limited amount of time to make calls. Typically during the evening hours, they receive 'association time' where they can briefly talk to friends and family on the outside.
Pay attention to when they call and free your schedule for that time. If this person chooses to call you, then you mean something to them, because they cannot reach out to everybody at leisure.
Ignoring the call causes great disappointment. Also, stay present for the conversation. Step away from anything going on in your world to give them your undivided attention for this brief moment.
Visiting an inmate in jail will brighten their day. This takes time and effort on your part that will not go unnoticed.
Seeing a friendly face breaks up the monotony of the day. It also reminds allows them to actually see the care in your eyes, which means a lot.
Do not mention it on the phone or in a letter. This way, if anything goes awry, they will not feel disappointed when you do not show.
How to Visit
Locate the inmate. Even if you knew where they wen originally, sometimes they get moved without much warning.
You cannot just show up and expect to see an inmate. Visitations require pre-registration.
You will need to register to go on a visitation list. Follow the dress code and bring identification.
Expect to go through metal detectors and get patted down. Go early in the morning and bring change for vending machines so that you can stay a long while.
4. Send Money
Jails and prisons do take care of very basic needs whether or not an inmate can pay for anything. But, they will only survive.
Financial support provides them with little extras that offer comfort. Plus, just knowing that somebody cares enough to do so means a lot to most people.
What Can They Buy?
Did you ever hear the term 'prison slop'? This refers to the general meals given without pay.
They will sustain life. But, the meals may not taste very good and often do not fill people up completely.
With commissary, an inmate may purchase better food, like meat, veggies, soup, snacks, etc. This keeps them healthier and most likely a bit happier.
They may also purchase soaps and other toiletry items that the facility does not provide. This allows them to maintain good hygiene throughout their stay and feel human in a setting that sometimes feels dehumanizing.
Shoes do not last forever and may get stinky depending on what they do during the day. They can buy new pairs with the money sent to them.
With the money you send, they might also buy paper, writing utensils, envelopes, postage stamps, etc. It might also get the little things they enjoy, like a deck of cards.
5. Mail Pictures
Inmates appreciate pictures. It allows them to see familiar faces and watch how people change over time.
Take pictures of people and pets they love. You might also snapshots of their home or other places that they love so they may look through and imagine going there a little clearer. Nature shots will give them a glimpse at the outside world that they most likely miss.
Remember to take pictures of them during events and gatherings. Bring everybody together and show all the love you can.
6. Send Books
Time goes by very slowly when you do not occupy it. Prisoners can find themselves wanting to climb the walls from boredom.
Every once in a while, send a good book. Some excellent reads that will encourage growth include:
- The Four Agreements (Don Miguel)
- Love as a Way of Life (Gary Chapman)
- The Untethered Soul (Michael A. Singer)
- You are Stronger Than You Think (Joel Olsteen)
Their time away dishes a heavy punishment. Help turn it into rehabilitation by showing genuine support through self-help books.
Showing Support Matters
People in jail did commit a crime. But, that does not mean that they do not need people who love them and care about their wellbeing. Showing support matters to them, and it may even inspire them to choose better in life moving forward.
Loving an inmate can create trying times for you as well. Find support for yourself by reading our blog.