I know that many of you reading this have a loved one that’s incarcerated or know someone that does. When I began my time all those years ago I remember how cold and impersonal incarceration felt. There were days when I struggled to carry on, and there were times when my family struggled coping with my situation. There’s worry, concern and fear, and I think most families want to help their incarcerated loved one in some way but are unsure how.
Today I want to talk about the topic of financially supporting your incarcerated loved one. I’ll answer the questions:
1. “What are the benefits of financially supporting my loved one?”
2. “How often should I send money?”
3. “How much money should I send?”
4. “When should I stop sending money?”
5. “When is sending money detrimental?”
I know that some of you are financially supporting an incarcerated loved one either regularly or by periodically sending money for ‘special’ occasions like institutional fundraisers, birthdays, sundry or food packages etc. Coping with separation from loved ones is difficult and financially assisting them is a way to maintain an ongoing connection. It probably also provides you with a sense of comfort that you are able to help. About 70% of all prisoners receive some form of financial assistance from friends or family.
It has been 16 months since I last wrote about JPay and GTL in my 9/23/19 letter titled “Captured Clientele”. I think the time has come to talk about these companies again because these two companies have an outsized impact on prisoners, their loved ones and how states approach rehabilitation. Their impact isn’t always beneficial either, but I’ll get to that in a moment. Today’s letter isn’t about trashing JPay or GTL, that’s not what this blog is about, but I will give you an honest take on both. JPay and GTL each have their positives and negatives.
I remember when I began my sentence I thought it was the end of the world. The end of life and the end of family and the life I knew with them. Today I am talking to those of you who recently lost loved ones to incarceration with long sentences. I want to talk to you about what you can expect.
I believe in our system of governance. I think we have the best system in the world, but it has its flaws and shortcomings. All systems do. With regard to the American criminal justice system there are terrible flaws and inefficiencies. I’d venture as far as to say that the system is broken in that it disproportionately punishes the poor and rewards the wealthy. In the United States if you have money and you break the law you are in very good shape. Your probability of being punished is very low for money buys the best lawyers and influence. Continue reading “Criminal Justice & the Prison System: Inside Out”