How to Write Letters of Encouragement for Prisoners

A person who had just been released from prison.

Published August 17, 2022

Writing letters of encouragement to prisoners can be a very fulfilling experience. However, how do you even start? What should your letter say in the first place? I’m here to help you out. By reading this article, you’ll find out everything there is to regularly writing letters to prisoners.

So Why Should I Write To Prisoners?

The life of a typical prisoner in the United States is generally unpleasant. Inmates are regularly subjected to isolation, cruelty, loneliness, self-doubt, and coldheartedness. 

On top of that, they are ostracized in society for being criminals, regardless of the magnitude of their crimes.

With being said, prisoners are still human beings. As such, they’re still deserving of hope as well as encouragement. Due to that, many have started a pen pal relationship with inmates.

In some cases, these people have managed to develop lasting deep relationships with them. That being said, we don’t recommend getting into a romantic setup with a locked-up person.

By writing letters to prisoners, it’s possible to:

  • Introduce them to God.

  • Provide them with a ray of hope.

  • Help eliminate feelings of loneliness.

  • Get to them excited about the future.

  • Assist with their rehabilitation.

  • Brighten their gloomy days.

A lot of prisoners who have been sent letters of encouragement have shown improvements in their general outlook on life. 

It becomes easier for them to contend with the various constraints of prison life and look forward to their future on the outside after their release.

Besides that, the majority of inmates with pen pals have stated that they’ve discovered a new outlook on life. Many of them have turned to God and have begun to live a life full of purpose.

What To Say When Writing A Letter To A Prisoner?

blonde lady thinking with a pen in the mouth and a pen and paper


You probably already know what to say when you’re writing an inspirational letter to a friend in jail. However, what direction should you take if you are writing to a complete stranger? 

One of the best things you can do is avoid being too inquisitive as to why they’re in prison. The reason why is because many inmates simply don’t want to talk about it.

Below are some topic ideas for letters of encouragement for prisoners:

  • Funny Stories & Anecdotes

Describe amusing events from your personal life. Share stories about the shenanigans that you got yourself into during your youth. It is also advisable to include things you heard from friends.

Needless to say, you should get into too much detail regarding your life. Furthermore, keep the subject matter light. Lastly, never make references to any sort of illegal activities you’ve done.

  • Religious Quotes

First of all, determine whether your friend or pen pal is religious or not. Why? Because sending them a letter with religious quotes can only end up upsetting them if they’re non-religious.

With that said, don’t hesitate to include verses from the Bible or any other piece of scripture if you’re sure that who you are writing to believes in God.  

Believe me, doing this will greatly help them with self-reflection and rehabilitation. It’ll make them think about their actions and repent.

  • Inspirational Quotes

As mentioned, prison life can get very difficult. Consequently, many inmates lose their sense of self-worth. Furthermore, they develop a gloomy outlook on life, and possibly even depression.

Including an inspirational quote or two in your letters of encouragement to prisoners can make their day. Upon reading the quotes you wrote, they may see that ray of sunshine they need.

  • Word Games

Do you want to make your letter unique and enticing so that your inmate pen pal will be excited about your next letter? If so, then you might want to add word games to your letters.

You can do this very easily by simply copying the crossword puzzle on your morning newspaper to your letter. Alternatively, you may search the web for more word games to use.

  • Love Quotes

We generally don’t recommend engaging in romantic relationships with inmates. However, if you have a loved one that ends up in prison or fall in love with your pen pal, then it would be right to include love quotes in your letters. Be sure to stay creative and create something truly unique.

If you’ve got a boyfriend in jail or prison, then I highly recommend that you read this article. It will teach you everything you need to know about writing to an incarcerated loved one.

What Shouldn’t You Include When Writing Prison Letters?

The Federal Bureau of Prisons is very strict when it comes to what kind of letters inmates can receive. In fact, all the letters you send are subject to inspection before they’re given out.

Now with thought out of the way, don’t include these things when writing prison letters:

  • Perfumed letters
  • Sexually explicit photographs
  • Gift certificates
  • Cash
  • Gift cards
  • Medications

Remember that if you include the wrong things in your letter, its recipient won’t receive it. On top of that, you might run into trouble with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. As such, it is best to keep away from sending everything that’s mentioned above.

Where To Send Encouragement Letters To Prisoners?

mails and a mailbox

Countless non-government organizations have set up online programs that allow you to easily write letters of encouragement to prisoners. Alternatively, a lot of churches also have such programs you can get into. Hence, we suggest checking with the churches in your area.

Now if you wish to write to a particular inmate, there’s an inmate locator on the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ website. What’s great is that this locator is that it’s easy and completely free to use.

The Bottom Line

If you want to do something that’ll greatly help the life of another person, then writing letters of encouragement to prisoners is the thing for you. Don’t hesitate to do so and gain friends in the process.

Remember that prisoners are human beings too. For that reason, they deserve humanity, which unfortunately, is something that’s not present in most U.S prisons. As such, your letters to them can make a massive difference in the general outcome of their rehabilitation time inside prison.

(Related: Sample Love Letters to Your Boyfriend in Jail)

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How to Write Letters of Encouragement for Prisoners

About The Author

is an experienced blogger with a deep passion for crime stories and justice. Over the years, Chris has written many stories on a myriad of topics. As a result, millions of people worldwide have read and benefited from his content.