From the Mailbag – Letter from Miguel

Content Warning

This mail-in blog submission comes from a member of our community who is currently incarcerated. The content of this blog post touches on issues related to incarceration as well as suicide.

Our Mail Bag blog posts feature letters and postcards that members send to us at LetterMo to share with the community. You can submit content to the Mail Bag by following the instructions at Mail-In Blog Submissions.

This mailbag blog entry comes to us from Miguel, in the United States. Miguel shares his reflections on the importance of letter writing to him as he serves out a his sentence in prison, and the way that the connections he makes with pen pals keeps him connected to the wider world and gives his life a sense of meaning and purpose.

Dear Adam,

Writing letters started as a desire to stay in contact with my family. A kind inmate named Stephen Kennedy helped teach me cursive, and I practised relentlessly so I could hone my skills. Sadly, it would seem that no matter how many letters I wrote my loved ones, they didn’t seem very interested in the mutual correspondence. Still, writing became an insatiable desire for me. I didn’t want to lose contact with my family during my incarceration.

Being an inmate really put letter writing into perspective, especially when considering my severance with the outside world. Prison can be such a hostile and unforgiving place, so I strived to stay in contact with my family; even if they weren’t interested in doing so. I began to truly appreciate the value of such a simple but vital means of communication, and I kept writing; even if it meant being ignored!

My life changed forever when I lost contact with my family. I felt totally hopeless without them, and I was contemplating the end of my life. The days seemed to be getting darker and darker; the void was drawing closer and closer. I wanted it all to be over, but I also wanted another chance, and I know that no one was going to just hand it to me. So, I made it my mission to use my letters to seek a new family or die in the event of my failure.

If you’re reading this letter, then you should know that my mission was a success, and I am alive, but not quite living. I was able to find the support I needed, and I have continued my search for friends, family, and a firm purpose, which I express through my creative gifts to my pen-pals.

Writing letters has certainly changed my life for the better. I have horrible regrets in my short twenty-eight years of life, and I wish I could make it right, but what’s done is done. However, I owe my pen-pals a great debt of gratitude, which shall be re-paid in my artistic expression.

Love Always,

Miguel
Editor’s Note

An often overlooked, but very present part of the letter writing world are individuals in prison. In a setting where phone calls are expensive and access to the internet and email is either severely limited or non-existent, written correspondence is often one of the only means of communication with the outside world. This is not only important for the mental health and overall well-being of the person in prison, it is also linked with lower rates of recidivism and more successful re-entry into the general public when their sentence is over. Corresponding with people in prison is not for everyone, and if you are interested in learning more about this particular type of mail project, there are some excellent organizations that will help you learn more about it and can facilitate making initial connections with prisoners who are seeking pen pals. Some places to get started:

  • Black and Pink Pen Pals: Since 2005, Black and Pink has helped incarcerated LGBTQ+ individuals find pen pals in the United States.
  • Wire of Hope: A general pen pal service linking incarcerated persons with pen pals. Largely focused on incarcerated people in the United States, some international inmates are listed.

2 thoughts on “From the Mailbag – Letter from Miguel”

  1. Thanks for posting this. I connected with Miguel through LetterMo this year. I owe him a letter! I’m pleased mail provides Miguel with some comfort while he is incarcerated. His mail is really lovely to receive.

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