Adjusting to life in prison is a difficult process for those incarcerated and their loved ones on the outside. If you have a loved one serving time, it can be hard to know the best way to support them during this period of adversity. Fortunately, this guide outlines practical and creative ways to offer emotional and financial support for your loved one in prison. From staying connected through letters to helping them with legal matters, discover the ultimate guide to supporting your loved one in prison.

Before diving into how you can help, it is important to understand why people go to prison in the first place. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, most individuals are incarcerated for drug and property offenses. Other reasons include violent crimes such as assault, homicide, and robbery. Additionally, individuals may be incarcerated due to weapons offenses or white-collar crimes such as fraud and embezzlement.

Supporting Your Loved One in Prison

Your loved one may have been in trouble intermittently over many years. Or they may have made one mistake and subsequently been imprisoned for it. Whatever the circumstances, it can still be a shock when a loved one goes to prison. You will likely have to deal with your own shock and sadness about the situation and that of your loved one who will be serving time. Many people find it difficult to be a meaningful supporter of their loved one serving time.

Here are some ways you can support your loved one in prison.

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1. Stay Connected Through Letters, Phone Calls, and Visits

Staying connected is one of the best things you can do to support your loved one in prison. This can be done through writing letters and making phone calls. Regularly sending letters is a great way to keep your communication consistent. For phone calls, it’s essential to find cost-effective solutions, as these calls can be expensive. One method to consider is the acceptance of collect calls from jail on cell phones, which can significantly reduce communication costs and ensure you stay in touch more frequently.

Additionally, many prisons offer email services for inmates and their families. Check the visitation times and rules for the particular facility your loved one is in, too. Depending on the distance, visiting as often as you like might not be possible. However, planning and committing to visit on certain days and times can greatly affect prisoners’ morale.

2. Encourage Them To Enroll In Prison Programs

Another way to support your loved one in prison is to encourage them to enroll in educational, vocational, or well-being support and other programs offered by the facility. These programs can help inmates gain skills, job experience, and even certifications to better prepare them for life after prison.

You should also encourage your loved one to participate in activities and social events available in the prison. The help available in prison depends on the facility itself. For example, the Graham Correctional Center has substance abuse treatment programs and a range of academic and vocational programs. Find out as much as you can about what is available so you can encourage your loved one in a direction that would benefit them.

3. Help Them Stay In Touch With Friends and Family

Maintaining a connection with their loved ones is difficult for those in prison. You can help by contacting your loved one’s family and friends to ensure they know what is happening with their incarcerated loved one.

Send pictures, letters, or emails to share with the family. You can also help your loved one by seeking out volunteer services or organizations that provide phone services at a reduced cost. Keeping your loved one connected to others important in their life can make a big difference to their mental well-being and attitude while serving time.

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4. Look After Their Finances

Helping your loved one stay on top of their finances is another way you can support them while they are in prison. This may involve helping them fill out forms, setting up direct deposits to help with expenses like buying phone cards, or even helping them apply for grants and benefits to help with the cost of their incarceration.

This can make a big difference in whether your loved one can afford those things that will help them during their prison sentence, such as books or classes.

5. Make Sure They Have Access To Updates On Legal Matters

Another way to support your loved one in prison is to update them on any legal matters that may affect them. This can include providing copies of any new laws or changes in regulations that may affect their rights and privileges.

Additionally, you can help them contact legal aid organizations if they are seeking help with any legal issues or cases. Awareness of their rights and staying up-to-date on legal matters will help them better prepare for the future.

6. Prepare For Their Release

Finally, you can support your loved one by preparing for their release. This may involve helping them apply for jobs, housing, or other services that may be necessary for them to transition back into society.

You can also provide emotional support as they adjust to life outside prison, and help them find services to assist with any health or mental health concerns.

Supporting Your Loved One in Prison

Keeping your loved one supported while in prison can make all the difference to their morale and outlook on life after release. By understanding their challenges and providing them with resources to help them succeed, you can give them a better chance of successfully transitioning back into life on the outside.

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