I asked twenty inmates recently if anyone would like to write to someone on the outside and 5 guys immediately said yes.  Another guy who I don’t believe writes well in English asked if I could find someone to visit him.

If that is an accurate percentage then 25% of the inmate population would like to have  some one to write to on the outside.

Gary was recently released after being incarcerated for 15 years.  He said, “Receiving letters in prison gave me a sense of being connected and a sense of what is happening in the world. I felt more informed.”

On the inside inmates see only prison walls and other offenders.  Letter writing keeps them connected to the world they left behind and hope to rejoin one day.

People who write to inmates start by thinking it is just for the benefit of the inmate but those who write to inmates quickly learn how much it benefits them as well.

I personally have been writing to various inmates for over twenty-five years.  Some have been released and replaced by another one but I usually write to three or four at a time.  It keeps me grounded and thankful.  Thankful that my life never lead me down those paths and thankful that by His grace I am able to reach out to these men

Keith started writing to an inmate in Camp Hill (1/2 mile from his house) for the first time a year ago.

“I enjoy writing to prisoners because its talking the talk and walking the walk.  It's putting your faith in action to see a change in somebody's life. And the only way we can change our life and grow is by helping somebody else to change his/her life and grow.”

Like many people respond when asked if they would write to a prisoner Keith responded with “But what will I write about?”  Just tell about your life and your walk with God and allow them to write about whatever they want to write about.  Be encouraging and show God’s love to them.

Now Keith says that he stops everything he is doing when he gets a letter and immediately reads it.

Grantham’s Friends over Fences program makes it easy and safe.  Letter writers use the church’s address so inmates don’t know where they live.  We have a handbook that outlines rules and protocol to protect the writers and the inmates.

John who has been in and out of prison but is on his way to full recovery said, “In jail you tend to believe that the world has forgotten about you {[not just] your family and friends.  A lot of times its sad but true that when you are incarcerated people might not have forgotten about you but they put you aside. When you get letters you realize that people haven't forgotten about you and you still mean something to somebody.

When I receive a letter in jail it made my day. It brightened my whole day. Its like I had nothing else to look forward to but reading that one letter. And being able to respond to it too let me feel a friendship there with someone that you don't really know but it has given you the opportunity to know them."

In the age of Twitter, Facebook, email and texting, letter writing is becoming old school but to many in our prison system it is the only means of communications.  

And many inmates never receive a letter from family or friends.

Double Blind Mail Program

Our Double Blind Mail Program is simple.  You never have to give an inmate your address.

Just use Grantham Church,421 Grantham Road, Mechanicsburg PA 17055 OR YOUR CHURCH as your return address on all correspondences and when the inmate writes to you he/she uses that address.

Your mail will be waiting for you in your box on Sunday!

Safe and secure!

AND we pre-screen each inmate before we assign a PenPal.  No guarantees but we will step in if we have to.


Over the years many men and women have written to inmates with success.  That success is usually because they understood something about human nature and the inmate personality.

We have found one very good Guideline to help you make your writing a success too.

It was written by a man who was in prison and now works with inmates as we do.  This is not meant to scare you in the least but it does lay out some common sense rules.  Even if the rule doesn't make sense now, it probably will in the future as you learn more about the men behind bars.  One of our very active mentors just recently told me that he thought I was very hard on inmates in the past but has come to understand why these rules are necessary.

Please download this PDF and read it before your start this adventure:

Letter Writing Guidelines.pdf  (I tried to find the author Lennie Spitale to get permission to repost but couldn't locate him.)

One of our letter writers asked about Paragraph 4. "Keep your letters on a spiritual focus."  He felt that it inhibited what he could talk about.  I told him that I write a lot about my life so my friends know about me and my struggles.  And told him to be careful but he was open to write whatever he wanted.

These are Guidelines only.

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Family Circle Ministries, Inc. a 501 (c) 3 not-for-profit is d/b/a Friends Over Fences
Family Circle Ministries Inc