Writing letters of encouragement to inmates

This is an invitation from one of our justice and community partners, Parkland Restorative Justice in Prince Albert. Read more about their excellent work here.

Director Kerry Reimer invites our participation in writing letters to inmates at Saskatchewan Penitentiary. He asks that we “Please email letters to myself, director@parklandrj.com and I will address the letter and mail it to one of the inmates in our program who has voluntarily signed up for our prison visitation program.

Some tips for what to include

These are just suggestions, no pressure to include these things:

  • Include a hopeful quote or scripture and explain why you find it to be encouraging or how it provides you with hope.
  • Write about something in nature or in your community that you are seeing right now that gives you hope for new beginnings.
  • Write about a favourite character in a book, movie, or show, and how they overcame a struggle and found a new path forward.
  • 1-2 questions about their mental health
  • – What is your greatest fear during this time?
  • – What is bringing you comfort at this time?
  • – Do you have anyone to talk to about any anxieties or fear you are feeling?
  • The following list with your thoughts on…

5 things you are grateful for during this time,

4 things that you miss/or dislike during this time,

3 places where you are finding hope, and

2 things you look forward to when this is over,

1 thing you are struggling with and a positive way you are coping with that struggle. (ask them to answer the same questions)

You may write your first name at the end of the letter/email, but do not include any other personal info, such as contact information, where you work what school you go to, or your age. For safety reasons we will keep all personal information confidential. If the inmate does wish to reply, it will be through our office, with your privacy being maintained. This will be a onetime letter/email sent for the purpose of encouraging the inmate to find hope and provide them with a connection to the community. The men inside who are not writing back may have low writing skills or may not have access to a stamp.

Our program throughout the years has repeatedly received feedback from inmates on how important it is to hear from community members and about what life on the outside is like. They comment on how this contact makes them feel more human and less isolated.