Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 240

Prison penpal

So, my next mission is to get myself a prison penpal.

I know, I know what you’re thinking. I’m nuts. But the idea behind this is to find out about the U.S. prison system, how that person came to be in prison, what their life was like beforehand, and how they plan to rehabilitate and what they’ll do when they get out.

Additionally, I am also interested in meeting, or at least talking, to someone on death row. There are still death row inmates in Maryland – Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, an outspoken death penalty opponent, has yet to commute the sentences of the state’s five death row inmates (despite his role in pushing a repeal of capital punishment that takes effect next month.)

So, I’m first of making contact via Meet an Inmate. I have a choice of male or female penpals, although I think many of them are looking for a love interest, which, obviously, I’m not.

I chanced upon Sonny. At first, I thought ‘WTF!’, which is interesting, since his first comment on his profile is this:

‘Hey, I know you’re thinking to yourself what the f*#k!’

Hello Sonny

Hello Sonny

Yes, Sonny, I did think that, sorry. He adds ‘I am a lot to take in! But I’m worth getting to know. I’m not going to blow smoke up your a*s by telling you a bunch of BS just to get you to write me. The truth is, this place really sucks and I’m tired of being alone.

I’m looking for someone who is looking for me. As you can see, there is just too much to me to put in a short intro. What you really need to know about me is that I’m open-minded and kind. Oh, and I like tattoos, lol! I look forward to hearing from you soon.’

Anyway, I haven’t made up my mind who to write to yet – so many choices! And I am nagging a prison in Maryland to see if they’ll let me visit. It’s a whole new world in there…..

Western Correctional Institution is located just outside the City of Cumberland Maryland

Western Correctional Institution is located just outside the City of Cumberland Maryland

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9 Responses to Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 240

  1. ThatOtherGuy says:

    This is a really bad idea. Please don’t do this.

  2. It seems like a nice idea to write to an inmate… but I’m not sure how comfortable I would be with having my return address available to them. Also seems like it would be pretty emotional to talk to someone on death row. If they did something so bad that they earned the death penalty, are you sure its a good idea?

  3. Elisabeth says:

    This is a very bad idea for so many reasons. It’s one thing to want to befriend an inmate in order to offer some sort of spiritual guidance or piece of mind, or to hope to become a long-term friend but to do it because you think it might be fun or interesting, something to blog about later, just seems wrong.

    To talk to a Death Row inmate, someone who is a complete stranger to you comes off as being quite voyeuristic and self-serving. If you ever had a family member in a US prison you would never consider doing this.

    • I do understand your concern and whilst my tone is frivolous, my intentions are not.

      You hit the nail on the head when you say that if I had a relative in the USA prison system I would understand. The fact is I don’t, and as a British citizen I doubt I ever will. By communicating with someone in the prison system I might actually begin to understand the way in which it works, and, as I mentioned in my blog piece, someone might have a story they wish to tell that I can share.

      I am a writer and I can write about donuts and the PTA and the weather or I can open my mind to different, more challenging experiences and write about those, and if it helps people to understand something more, if it dispels some myths, if it allows others a voice, or if stops us thinking we know what we know because of the USA we see in movies (prison movies), then hopefully as a writer I have done something valuable and worthwhile and not shallow and self serving as you suggest.

      Of course, all writers are self serving in some way, for something must be gleaned from the experience for them too, and for me I hope that it I am able to confront my pre-judgements of prisons and prisoners and why they are there, and of course if I can do this via my blog and invite readers to share in this, I’ll be happy.

      As for the person I correspond with, I hope they feel they are being valued, respected and communicated with honestly throughout the process. And who says we won’t have a friendship? Who can tell.

      Anyhow, for those who worry about the ‘safety’ of this, it’s all in hand.

      I have an insatiable curiosity to find out things that aren’t always in the regular daily grind whilst in the USA. This is one of those those things. It’s a carpe diem thing.

  4. Andy says:

    Gawker.com did a series on their site of letters from death row inmates a few months back. I read a few and it was quite harrowing reading, and some of them were incredibly unrepentant for what they had done. Here’s a link if you want to see them: http://gawker.com/tag/death-row-letters

    On a lighter note, if you just want to write to some horny male (sans prison tatts I’m afraid) you know where I am! πŸ˜‰

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