Take in stamps, paper, envelopes. As much as you can. A letter out is the only sure-fire, 100% way of getting a message to the outside world.

The nearest post box to you should be easily accessible, often on the way to get food, have a shower or go to exercise, so you should have plenty of chances to post. There are random checks on letters in and out, so letters in will often be opened by the time you get them, and you will usually be asked not to seal letters out.

Anyone writing will need your prison number (see the section entitled The everyday for information on this number) to make sure the letters get through.

Lots of material is prohibited but it is difficult to figure out what is and the consistency is not great – sometimes photos get through, sometimes not, likewise with stamps and magazine cuttings. So if people write, get them to say in the letter if they have included anything (newspaper cutting, whatever), so you know if it’s gone. And don’t expect small valueless stuff like cuttings or photos to be put into the property box you receive when you get out – it’s just asking too much of the system for them to keep and file every little piece – although they are likely to keep anything of significant value for you.

Living on Prison Time

In prison time passes very slowly. Anything left unsaid or undone on the outside can gnaw away at you, and the fact that you might not be able to tell your wife something for 6 days rather than 4, or that you can’t get a message to (where you used to) work for 7 days rather than 3 will seem like the biggest thing in the world.

Try to remember what the difference of 2 or 4 days felt like on the outside – it simply doesn’t matter. If you had a busy life on the outside, you will know how easy it is to forget to do or say something for 4 days and it did not matter at all. Nobody else on the outside will have slowed down to your timeframe, so again, try to relax about it and think that it all simply doesn’t matter. Even special aspects of your situation such as a pregnant wife, a small baby, or a fast-moving job where lots of people don’t know the situation beforehand – none of these really make 4 days that important. I had all of these.

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Prison Visits