How to Support an Incarcerated Loved One

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When someone you care about and love faces time behind bars, no one would blame you for feeling sad. You probably also worry about what the future holds and how they will do in prison or jail.

Whether you know someone who faces a sentence of just a few months up to several years or longer, you can learn how to support them from the outside. And you don’t need to visit every week or spend a lot of time driving to see them.

Check out some of the best ways to support an incarcerated loved one until their release.

Put Money on Their Books

Both prisons and jails have small stores that allow inmates to buy some of the creature comforts they had at home. They can buy snacks and foods they make in their cells and between meal times. Many stores also offer underwear and extra clothing along with radios and even small TVs.

Though prisons often allow inmates to work and earn money, they do not earn very much. You can call in and put money on the books they use to buy items from the store.

Write to Them

The Sentencing Project found that two million men and women are in jails and prisons in the United States alone. Many websites are available that help inmates find pen pals on the outside. Let your loved one know that you’re still here and waiting for them with regular letters. Keep in mind that corrections officers working in the facility will read each letter that comes in and goes out to make sure it doesn’t contain anything unsavory.

Though it might take a week or longer for an inmate to receive a letter you wrote, it lets them know you care.

Send Them Gifts

Most facilities work with organizations to send inmates gifts from the outside. While you may want to send a special gift on their birthday, a gift package on an ordinary day of the week can go a long way towards making them feel better about their situation.

Treat someone who loves coffee to a basket that includes instant coffee and a few different creamers and sweetener options. If you have a chocolate lover behind bars, it’s just as easy to find a package that comes loaded with candy bars and other goodies. You can usually add a custom note to the package, too.

Plan Regular Visits

Prisons and jails have visiting hours in which people can see their loved ones. Make sure that you check the schedule in advance to ensure that you have enough time together.

It’s also helpful to look at the rules, as some facilities do not allow visitors to wear low-cut shirts and other types of clothing. You usually cannot bring any bags or gifts inside either.

When an inmate first arrives, they will spend a day or longer behind bars until they have a chance to go before a judge and get bail. You may need to meet with an Oakland bail bonds agent to arrange the bail payment before your visit.

Share Your Life

A big mistake that some people make when they have an incarcerated loved one is that they focus just on the inmate and not on their own lives. Talking about your life is important because it reminds the individual of all the things they can do on the outside when they get out.

Don’t hesitate to talk about the funny things that happened at work or the cute things your kids and pets do. You may also want to share some of your favorite memories about the inmate and bring up shared jokes to remind them that you are still connected to each other.

Helping Your Loved One

Spending time behind bars is difficult. It can change the way a person eats and sleeps and make them nervous when they’re around large groups.

When you have a loved one serving time, you don’t need to sever your connection or move on without them. Learning how to support them helps you continue your relationship and remind them that you will always be there.

Writing them regular letters and planning visits as well as sending gifts and adding money to their accounts are a few of the simple ways you can support an incarcerated person.

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