Prison Pen Pals

WRITING to someone from the other side of the globe can be easy nowadays, but what if they were in prison?

There’s this little website on the web that always people like you and me to communicate with inmates via email. Even more interesting you can talk to people who are on death row.

I spoke to someone who does just this, Eleanor Welsh, 20 from Middlesbrough plucked up the courage and began talking to an inmate called Alvin Pellum, 25.

Eleanor Welsh, 20, Media Student

One day Eleanor happened to come across the website WriteAPrisoner. After surfing a couple of pages she stumbled across Alvin’s profile, a young man from South Carolina. She read his bio and thought he sounded really interesting and relate-able, especially that he got sentenced the same age she is now.


After a couple of weeks of speculating, she finally hit the send button. The process was very daunting at first for her, she had to wait a couple of weeks for a reply due to security measures.

“I was excited when I seen the notification email!” Alvin had finally messaged her with a full page of his life story and his struggles. Alvin was charged with felon in possession of a fire arm for 10 years, in 2010.

Eleanor and Alvin have sent dozens of emails to each other now, they both learn about their cultures, and stories and their upbringing. Alvin has always been in and out of trouble through his teenage years.

Alvin Pellum, 25, Prisoner

Alvin is one of the lucky ones who can access the computer to stay in touch with loved ones and meet new ‘pen pals’. He said that Eleanor is his only pen pal at the moment and he loves receiving messages from her.

Who knew that you can study a degree while in prison! Alvin has just finished a degree in Business, and is waiting to see if he graduates. Eleanor has learnt a lot from Alvin and finds it fascinating that he’s redeeming himself while inside, and hopes to do something with his degree when he gets out which he hopes it will be in 2018.

When asked if she would meet up with him, she said she would definitely think about it. “I would love to go to South Carolina, he makes it sound so beautiful and picturesque”.

This website diminishes the barrier people face when trying to talk to people they know in prison. Whether it’s a letter or an email it arises that Alvin is very eager to learn so while in prison, the chance to talk to people gives him a sense of worth.

Whether this is a long term thing or not, it’s inspiring that a young girl has had the confidence to speak to someone in an American prison and since telling people even some of her friends have joined in and are writing to inmates.

You can visit Alvin’s Profile here.

from Tside