Supporting Prison Ministry

by Richard Lord

Ecoprisoners, an organization that supports persons accused or convicted of actions taken on behalf of ecojustice, recommends several helpful activities that free citizens can do to support incarcerated individuals.

Editor’s note: These suggestions pertain to exchanges with inmates with whom a relationship has been established. Speak with officials at the facility or others in prison ministry for tips on supporting those on the “inside” from the “outside.” And remember, advocacy and action is a great way to support those imprisoned in a broken system.

Letters
Inmates enjoy hearing about someone’s day-to-day activities and interests. This is often the easiest and most important thing you can do to support people in prison. Check with the institution regarding its mail regulations. Most facilities do not allow torn pages from books, magazine or newspaper clippings. Photocopies, however, are accepted.

Care packages
Send pictures of wild places, ones that are vivid in color and show a lot of detail. Or describe a hike—spend the day outside hiking, take some pictures and then send them to a prisoner with a story about your hike. Photocopy everything: pictures of beautiful paintings, other artwork, large photos, newspaper articles, book pages, magazines, and anything else you can think of and share them with.

Donating
Send cash donations directly to the inmate’s commissary account.

Books
Usually, books must be new, paperback and come directly from the publisher or an online distributor. Remember to keep the topics of books focused away from subjects that could potentially cause problems for prisoners.

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About Tara Barnes

editor of response, the magazine of United Methodist Women.
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