Turkey Day is followed immediately by an onset of shopping with the retailers playing Christmas music, decorating their stores, and doing everything possible to get you into the holiday spirit but inside the prisons it's just another endless stretch of sad days for most of the prisoners, missing their family and trying to find a way to kill time and prevent boredom until they are released.
To make it even more boring, school and the other classes are usually canceled for an extended period. While some of the offenders don't like school, most will agree that the days without anything to do make the time go by even slower.
On Christmas day there is usually a meal that is better than the other days (slightly), but in some units (particularly those run by the private companies like GEO and CCA) a better than average meal will be given for one meal and then a sack lunch with a bologna sandwich for the other meal. Just as an aside, the holiday meals in the prisons run by the State are much better than those run by the private corporations whose only concern is profit.
The hardest part about Christmas for inmates is the time away from the families. We at TexasParoleNow.com want to reiterate our annual suggestions for those of you who have family or friends who are locked up during this this holiday season:
- Visit and write as often as possible. Nothing is more uplifting to a prisoner than seeing their family and getting a letter from someone is a welcome surprise.
- If you can afford it, put a few dollars "on their books" so they can visit the commissary. The ability to buy even a couple of "soups" can do a lot for the morale of a prisoner and the purchase of even a single sweet is a big deal.
- During the Christmas season consider sending something to them. A gift in prison is hard to select, but books are usually best, since most books will make it through the checkers and are allowed to go directly to the prisoners. The books must come from a store or a publisher though.
- Of course, if parole is being considered during the next year or so we suggest sending them the printed copy of our eBook How to Prepare a Texas Parole Packet. This not only lets them know you are thinking about them but also gives them something to do by allowing them to work on their parole package from inside the walls. The package at the link above includes both a printed copy that can be mailed to them and also a digital copy for you.
- Christmas cards are both inexpensive and welcome. They often provide the only decoration in a drab room or cell. Not only do they brighten up the are but they are also a constant reminder that someone on the outside still cares about them.
Anything you can do to let an inmate know they are still a part of your life is extremely important so take a few minutes this holiday season to tell them you care.