There are currently millions of people who are incarcerated throughout the United States. While they may have done some horrible things, these people are still exactly that: people. While they may have surrendered some of their rights as part of the punishment for their crimes, they still should be treated as human beings, and not as animals. But what can one person do to help with this?
Become a Pen Pal
There are thousands of prisoners who never receive communication from the outside world. They may not have family or their family might have turned their back on them. This is not to suggest that you write to and strike up a relationship with a dangerous criminal. You should always exercise caution. But most prisons have lists of inmates who are looking for a pen pal. While you can’t see why they are in prison, you can learn a little about them before you start writing.
Lobby for Change
Prison reform won’t happen until the government takes the situation seriously. Unfortunately, they won’t take it seriously until normal, everyday citizens take action to force those changes. In order for your voice to be effective, you are going to have to do your research. There is no perfect solution, but you can become aware of the things that need to be fixed and lobby for that. Unless you make it a priority and let your representatives know about it, there won’t be any change.
Join a Support Group
Each prison in the United States has a friends and family group. These groups are composed of people who want to advocate for the inmates. You can do your part to facilitate change by joining one of those friends and family support groups. Through these groups, you can find out about specific problems that exist inside the prisons. This is especially crucial when you are working to improve living conditions for inmates. Unfortunately, some inmates are subject to abuse or neglect. Working with these groups will allow you to more successfully lobby for those who are being mistreated.
Visit an Inmate
If you happen to know someone in prison or jail, it’s important that you don’t forget them. Don’t leave them to sit through their sentence by themselves. Visits mean the world to most inmates, so make sure you take advantage of visiting days. You can also volunteer with groups that go into prisons and teach classes or offer religious services. Connections to the outside world are important for the inmates because they will help them readjust to life when they are released.
It’s never easy to get involved in something like this, and it may be very uncomfortable at times. By no means are you justifying crime by supporting an inmate. Lobbying for proper care and providing emotional support is part of making sure that they are treated like human beings.
Author Jenn Montgomery is a freelance writer, editor, and blogger based in San Diego. She writes on a variety of topics and enjoys learning new things. She graduated from San Diego State University with a degree in Rhetoric and Writing Studies. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, baking, and knitting. You can contact her on Twitter.