how YOU can help the prison population
Last year, I took part in a wonderful class at my old university — in which I got the chance to learn with inmates at Norco prison, and go into the level 2 medium security prison. Though there was a lot of paperwork, the class itself was one of the most amazing eye opening experiences I have ever had; I would like to spend a few years working as prison psychologist one day, because I am so passionate about helping this population, and they are in need of plenty of help. Prisons are known for abusing their power, and treating inmates like less than human. The truth is, people who end up in prison, are not bad people. Typically, a set of very unfortunate circumstances and no access to help, lead them to commit crimes. If your family was starving and you had to steal to survive, you probably would. We just aren’t in those circumstances, or we were able to overcome our circumstances. However, overcoming our own struggles does not give us the right to judge others for not being able to overcome theirs.
Since this population is so rarely talked about, I would like to shed some light on ways you can help the prison population as an individual, there are many ways to volunteer virtually.
— donate to post bail funds
— donate to organizations/nonprofits who work to reduce incarceration rates
some ideas on where to donate:
— Nation Inside (help keep inmates in contact with family)
— Justice for families (working to help the issue of mass incarceration, including policy advocacy)
If you want to help more directly, there are many programs where you can write to inmates through pen pal programs like
— Write a prisoner through various organizations
a) The Last Prisoner Project — allows you to write to people convicted over marijuana crimes, and give them some words of encouragement.
b) Prisoner Correspondence Program — specifically lgbtq+ friendly organization where you can write to inmates
c) Wire of Hope — another website for prison penpals
You can also check with your local prison nonprofits to see if they need any one to do volunteer work.