Having a good friend sent to prison is heartbreaking. Incarcerated individuals are removed from their regular lives for months, years, or even a lifetime. This is a very challenging moment for both your friend and the family. As a friend, you’re probably figuring out how to help out.
It’s a struggle to maintain a relationship with someone in prison. Many communication lines are cut and excessive regulation limits what you can give. But there are ways you can remain a great friend while respecting the law.
Help Them Get Out
Not Shawshank Redemption-style, of course. There are legal ways to help a friend get out of prison.
You can help arrange bail for an accused friend. Bail bond services in Raleigh allow more people to have access to the funds specified in the bail order. If you have the means, you can volunteer to shoulder the bond premium, which is usually 15% of the bail bond amount. This can be a great help to your friend’s family. Think long and hard about what you’re capable of chipping in. You can even become an indemnitor for the bail amount.
Understanding Your Friend
Popular movies are not a good resource for understanding life behind bars.
The mental health effects of incarceration are multi-faceted. The loneliness can cause depression. Being surrounded by strangers can cause anxiety. The abrupt change of lifestyle and stripping of freedoms can all add up to a traumatic experience. Unfortunately, many prisons in the county do not treat mental health issues, they only control the symptoms.
If your friend does not respond or appear grateful, be understanding and kind. They are facing a hellish period in their lives. If they initially refuse to keep in contact, try again next time. Give them a bit of space to open up again.
How to Keep in Touch
With only limited access to your friend in prison, showing care doesn’t always have to happen in person. Instead, you can send your affection through the following ways:
- Letters – there are often no limits on how many letters a prisoner can receive. Send personalized letters and help them remember that people outside the prison care for them. Give them great news on how people outside are coping. Keep it positive and uplifting.
- Reading materials – Books, magazines and newspapers are well-loved in prison. However, rules govern on what can and can’t get in. As to what titles to give, prefer positive reads over downers. A peek at the best-selling lists will lead you to good options.
- Money – the commissaries in prison offer “luxuries” like shampoo, instant ramen, and extra soap. Prisons only ration minimum living needs. Sending commissary money to someone in prison will help them cope with this. Fifteen to $30 a month will go a long way.
The stigma of being in prison can drive friends and families away. Staying and reaching out at this crucial moment will help your friend survive and eventually adapt to life behind bars.