We just wanted to take a minute and discuss how important it is to do three things for loved ones that are incarcerated.
Write often. It is such a little thing for those of us on the outside to do, but getting letters while in prison or jail is an incredible experience for a prisoner. The only thing worse than the boredom that is associated with being locked up is the feeling that you are no longer a part of your loved one's lives. A regular letter lets the person know that they are still loved as well as making them feel like they are still a part of the family and friends. Pictures are great but even more important is for them to know that someone still cares enough about them to spend a few minutes writing.
Visit as often as you can. A visit is an incredible joy to a prisoner and keeps their spirits up. In addition to getting a chance to see someone that isn't dressed in prison attire or screaming at them is a treat, plus you can usually buy them things out of the soft drink or food machines giving them a welcome break from the atrocious food. One family that we know would drive from east Texas to Mineral Wells every weekend, a 5 hour drive, so that the kids could have "lunch with Dad" and tell him about the things that were important to them. Even though the lunches were overpriced microwave hamburgers, to watch the family eating together you would have sworn it was the finest meal in the world.
Send commissary money. Of course, things are tough on the outside with the economy being atrocious and, at least in some cases, one of the bread winners in the family being in prison. Still, a few dollars as often as possible is a great treat, allowing the prisoner to get coffee, sweets, or even a few toiletries. Even $10 a month lets them feel normal for a few minutes a week.
More on parole stuff coming soon, it looks like the numbers are increasing and they are letting more people go!