1. You will receive journals or letters from your assigned prisoner. It will be your responsibility to write a letter back about their work, cheering them on, maybe telling them how you have handled a similar problem yourself, and finally, give them feedback about their writing. Use your judgement on this because it is important for inmates to learn to write so they can get jobs when they leave prison - but remember - most have not been past sixth grade and so you don't want to come off like the harsh, nitpicky English teacher. You could also send books and articles, that could spark a lively conversation, and let them know what is going on outside the walls if you would like.
2. Plan to meet your assigned prisoner twice a year so that you can get to know each other, develop a connection, and find mutual areas of interest.
3. Hold onto your prisoner’s journals carefully so that when they go before the Parole Board, they can show the Board documentation of the work they’ve been doing. There was an article in the New York Times recently about how the Parole Board is racist and stacked against inmates of color.
Right now, the average length of a meeting between an inmate and the Parole Board is four minutes, according to the National Lawyers Guild. That is four minutes to assess and decide the future of a person's life. We want the Parole Board to see the progress an inmate has made has while in prison and treat them fairly. Helping a person get their life back is a big responsibility - but your regular support, encouragement and guidance can help make this happen.
"Be a lamp or a lifeboat or a ladder.
Walk out of your house like a shepherd."