The Game's That Inmates Play

Inmate's having nothing to do, except think up new con's to play on unsuspecting, friends, family and pen-pals. I can't cover all of them but, will attempt to give you enough, you should be able to tell if you are a victim of these scams. Some of you will not believe that you are being scammed, that is how good some of these inmates are, until it is too late and you have lost something of value.

The first scam starts out as a pen pal. This scam was brought to my attention while working first watch, in a housing unit. First watch is from 10:00 PM to 6:00AM. Part of the job requirement is to process the inmates outgoing mail. As part of that process, we open and scan every letter to look for codes or notes, to identify letters that may indicate criminal activity. While completing this task, I noticed that one inmate had mailed about ten letters to ten different females. Now these letters were hand written but were identical except for the name of the women involved, and the addresses. After several nights of processing the mail and every night ten additional letters were going out, all again handwritten, with different names and addresses. Usually, the first part of these letters were and introduction stating that he normally does not write letters to people he does not know, but he had read her letter in a pen-pal magazine and was so moved by it that he just had to write her. He will then tell her that he is an inmate and has no family or friends to correspond with. He will tell her about his commitment offense, the reason he is in prison. Sometimes he'll tell them that he fail in with the wrong people and he was a victim himself, he had no idea they were going to commit a crime, he was with them at the time and that is how he got to prison. Sometimes he'll claim he was a drug addict and couldn't stop himself. He had lost his job, family and friends but could not get off the drugs. That is until, he was convicted and sent to prison. Now that he is in his right mind and thinking clearly, he is a changed person and feels bad about his victims or the crime he committed while under the influence of drugs. He hopes that she will be his pen-pal, to give him contact with someone that is caring and honest to help him through this nightmare that he finds himself in. He would then insert a poem, something that would pull at the heartstrings and would convey the feeling that he is a sensitive, caring person looking for someone to help him retain his humanity in an inhuman environment. Usually, he would claim to have written the poem, while sitting alone in his cell surrounded by violence in a violent place where the only escape, is to put his inter-most thought's and feeling's on paper, that he cannot share with anyone but them. In reality, the poem was hand copied form a magazine that cater's to inmate's, and usually has a section where drawings and poems can be sent in by inmates to be published. The letter will end with a statement to the effect that he hopes she will return his letter and be a pen-pal. He knows that this will only be a long distants relationship, a platonic one. He will then explain that he has used his last stamp and envelop to write her and if it is possible, for her to send him some stamps and envelopes so he can continue their correspondence, or she could send $20.00 to him and he would be able to by the stamps and envelopes himself. If she does not write him back, or is unable to send the envelopes or money that is okay, he understands. He will then thank her for the glimmer of light she has brought to him in his time of need and despair, locked away from humanity in this dungeon of darkness.

After several months I began to notice a pattern. The first week of the month he would send out 10 letters a day for five days. The following week the letters would drop to one or two a night, and continue that way until the first week of the next month and the process would repeat itself. The letters sent out after the first week were still handwritten and were pretty much the same in content, but would have several paragraphs that were personalized to the women that he was writing. Judging from his letters, he would echo, the interests that the women presented to him, giving the women the belief that he really cared about their thoughts and feelings and wrote to them as if they were the only person in the world that understood him. He would talk about how much he cared for them, how he wished he could have met a person like them before coming to prison, they may have kept him from traveling down that long road to prison, that his life would have been completely different. He understood that they could not have any kind of relationship except being his pen-pal. He hoped and dreamed that when he gets out of prison he would be able to meet a women just like her. To share his life, to put his past behind him and become the man that he should have been, a father, a husband and a provider for the needs and desires of his family. If they were religious, he would tell them, now that because of them he had started attending Chapel, religious services' in prison, and was amazed at the impact those services was having on his life. He would then have bible discussions with his new found pen-pal and ask her for her help in understanding passages and sermons. If the women had children he would tell her how his Father was a drunk, beat him and his Mother and finally left them, and how he always wanted children and swore that he would be a caring and loving Father, he would be everything his Father was not. The other line was how he was once married and had a child, but because of his addiction his wife divorced him and moved away with his child, he does not know where they are, but longs for the chance to make it right with his child, to be the Father he should have been. He would then tell them that because of their relationship, he now realizes what he has lost and blames only himself and pray's that someday he will have the opportunity to be a real Father. He'll thank her for sharing her life with him on paper and that she is a caring, sensitive, loving Mother to her children and that she has helped him realize that someday, if he is lucky he hopes to have a family.

Eventually, the inmate would have the women sending in money and packages for him. This particular Inmate only used this scam for himself, but other inmate's would have them send money and package to other inmate's, make three-way phone calls and forward letters to other gang members in other institutions. But back to the original story, after a time he would have a photo taken of himself and send it to the women involved and ask her to send photo's of her, or of her and her children, a family photo. The inmate would shave, get a haircut, have his clothes cleaned and pressed and appear as the clean cut all American boy. He would lavish compliments on her about how beautiful she and her family are, how lucky she is to have such a family and how he looks at the photo at night, just before going to sleep, and dreams of his life after prison and his hopes and desires of having a wife and family. He will send Birthday cards, Christmas cards and cards just saying thanks for your friendship. He'll tell her it took him hours upon hours to draw the card. In reality, he would trade stamps or other things of value in a prison and have another inmate make the card from him. The inscription inside the card would usually contain a poem, again taken from a magazine, and a personalized message just for her. By this time the women is usually sending him money and stamps on a regular basis, it is time for the final step. This usually includes phone calls and invites her to come visit him. That he feels a connection between them and that he just want the chance to talk with her in person, and to lose himself in her beautiful, caring, and understanding eye's. To be able to tell her what she means to him that he is unable to express with clumsy letters and words written on a piece of paper. If she agrees and visits him, he'll be a perfect gentleman, sincere, caring, and understanding, attentive to her wants, needs and desires. Listening to every word that flows over her lips, making her the only person in the world, and him the only one that truly knows her heart. He'll tell her how beautiful her heart is and that they are beyond the physical, that he has fallen in love with that person who has shared her heart with him, they are kindred spirits, trapped in circumstances beyond their control, that she is the princess that he could only dream of being with. He understands that he is not the right person for her and that his only desire is that she will find true happiness and love in a cold, heartless world. After the visit he will immediately write her a letter, telling her how happy she has made him and how he cannot sleep thinking about her that she makes him feel like there is hope and life after prison. That he dare hope there is a chance, a one in a million shot, that they would be able to make it together. That he could never find a woman that can see him for who he really is that knows his true heart and feelings that he dare not reveal to any other person. That he is unworthy to have the happiness that she could bring to his life, he understands that she may not be able to get over his past, he understands her concerns about him, and he could not blame her for pushing him away. He can only hope and dream that she would give him the chance to show her by his actions that he would be the man she deserves in her life, his only concern is her true happiness.

After several months, I finally got the opportunity to talk with this inmate one on one. I was surprised that when I asked him about the letters, that he actually set down and explained it to me in great detail. Inmates enjoy being able to talk about their scams, showing how cleaver and smart they are. He told me that in one of the magazine's that specifically targets inmates, you could purchase a mailing list of women that wanted to correspond with inmates for about $ 20.00. They will send you a list of 100 women. The first week of the month he would send out 50 letters and that usually within seven to ten days two or three of the women would respond. The rest of the month he would simply answer their letters. At first it was difficult learning what to write, but after awhile he became good at reading between the lines and writing back what the women wanted to hear. He said usually the women are lonely and feel that they would be able to help a poor inmate and change his life. If he works it right they will send him stamps or money. At that time he was making about $100.00 per month, for writing letters. To him it was a business, he made them feel good about themselves and made them feel like they were helping someone. After all $20.00 a month is not a bad fee to make a person happy by giving them what they wanted to hear. The hard part was making a good enough connection where they would actually come and visit him. At this point he knew he had them, his new plan was to see if he could get them to help him when he got released. He had no place to stay and felt that without their help he would have no choice but to become a statistic, a parolee returned to prison. Believe it or not he actually had a women that was divorced, owned her home in an upscale affluent neighborhood, fall in love with him and wanted him to live with her when he got out.

The end of the story, he paroled, she picked him up and he lived with her for about six months. She returned home from shopping one day to find her car gone, cash, credit cards, jewelry and the parolee missing. In my 25 years with the Department of Corrections in California, I have only seen one of these types of relationships survive. In that one, they married, had children, the parolee worked a regular job, got off parole and they stayed happily married. In my experience 99.9% of the time it is a scam, if you want to take those odds, remember you were warned.

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stormypagan profile image

stormypagan 2 years ago

lol that the write a prisoner owner would email the members of his site to come here and post positive experiences. What else would he do?. The fact that so many women from other countries are married to inmates that had/still have penpal advertisements confirms that the inmates target those particular women.

Terry B. Davis profile image

Terry B. Davis 2 years ago Author


You got me thinking so I had too look until I found it. It is in fact a cashiers check. I found an article on scams using cashier checks here is the link,

This has a lot of good info on the subject. Thanks for making me think about it. It started bugging me so I had to look for it.


Terry B. Davis profile image

Terry B. Davis 2 years ago Author


Thank you for your comment. I was not referring to money orders or cashier checks, I cant recall what the instrument is called as I had researched it awhile back. Part of the problem with it was that most bank tellers believed it to be just like a check but it is not. It can not be converted into an electronic transfer, and is not considered cleared until the issuing bank receives the instrument and clears it which in some cases can take up to a month. Also if it does not clear everything bounces back to who ever cashed it. When I have time I will check it out. Off the top of my head I want to say a certificate of deposit but have to check to be sure.

Thanks again


Slittles49 profile image

Slittles49 2 years ago

I work for a bank and this scam has been going on for years, not just with prisoners. There are the work from home scams too. Most money orders have 800 numbers printed right on them so you can verify the funds. The postal service has an 800 number to verify is 866-459-7822. This is an automated verification that will prompt you and it will verify the issuance of the money order and the amount of it. It will tell you if it's valid. If it's issued for $1.00 but been altered to $500.00 it will come back not valid. If not valid it will transfer you to a postal worker to assist you.

Terry B. Davis profile image

Terry B. Davis 2 years ago Author


Thank you for your comment. This is an age old scam, just a new twist on the cash a check for me and I will give you $$$$.

If the payment is sent in the form of a check, or a financial institution type transfer of funds, the funds can be removed before the financial instrument clears your bank and payment to you is made. Some financial instruments may take as long as several weeks to a month to actually clear the bank system as they can not be cashed electronically. In some cases, up to six weeks later the bank fails to complete the transaction and then it will bounce back to you and you will be liable for the total amount. The only protection is not to pay out any mony until the bank clears the financial instrument.

Best thing is DON'T DO IT.

Hope this helps you out, Take Care.


JuniMilton 2 years ago

Why would an inmate have another inmate send money to you only to cash the check and purchase a money order in the same amount for the first inmate? I know this isn't what your article is about but this also involves money and doesn't sound right.

Terry B. Davis profile image

Terry B. Davis 2 years ago Author


Thank you for your comments. To answer your question no I am not a women. As far as being on the street, I have worked as a Military Policeman, a city police officer, and as a parole agent. As a parole agent we utilized unmarked vehicles and wore plain clothes. As a correctional counselor I have reviewed thousands of inmate central files, which includes all court docs, family history, education and job history, as well as disciplinary while in jail or prison and parole history's. Also as a counselor I sit down one on one with inmates for about an hour and talk with them. As a parole agent I again have reviewed thousands of parole files and had one on one interviews with parolee's, their families, and close friends. I have also conducted surveillance and have watched parolee's, their family and friends and people in general. With that in mind the intent of the article was basically, trust but verify and this is good advise in or out of prison. I have found generally speaking that it is easier to get a true picture of someone by watching what they do and how they do it as opposed to talking with them. As you know, gang members like to study up how to read people and manipulate them, and many or some are very good at reading people and saying what that person wants to hear, and making the individual believe they are sincere. It is difficult to get people to really look honestly at situations they are involved in. If I were to just give them the happy ending stories they would not have a clue.

I thank you for your comment and I take no offense. I enjoy seeing view points that are different from mine.

Again thanks and good luck.


Rhudson profile image

Rhudson 3 years ago from California

I have definitely come to the right place...I am a seasoned police officer, deputy sheriff, jailer, correctional officer , deputy court clerk and now retired. My husband is incarcerated he was in the military but got caught in uniform with marijuana..The first thing I will say I was a police officer before going inside (corrections) and if you have never been street savvy you actually have no clue...I feel that there are people that can scam people no matter where they are and who they are...This is for all the men and women that choose to date, marry or care for an inmate/convict. If that person only asks you for money then much like a man or woman in the free world. They only want you for the money plain and simple or ask you to bring drugs to them any of these run as fast as you can...If he never asks you for anything maybe there is some chance he is real you have to be the judge and only God can judge you...The thing about doing anything for anybody is that when you do it from your heart with no reason but to give God knows your heart....The person that uses anybody will pay dearly not to man but to God who will one day judge us all. I have seen women take their entire purses to killers and seen and know women that have married lifer's and are with them to date! This man is only stating what he feels from his opinion which is only validated from a mail correctional officer no disrespect meant.

My question to him would be what do you know of life on the street as an officer and have you ever been a woman no lol so there you have my take on the inside and outside!!!

ScorpioSteve78 3 years ago

You people are naïve, and exactly in the mind-set that 'the ones who ARE scammers' wanted you in.. Doesn't mean all are scammers, but I'm here because I have a family member who's now wanting more & more money, yet she's admitted to me she maintained a "Husband/Wife relationship' with another inmate the first time she was incarcerated, and as for my mom, and myself, we're both on fixed, limited income, so we cant afford to SUPPORT her Gf's, if that's the case.. She already has her EXBf's family sending money as often as they can, and it's often.. I found this site looking up different hustles inmates will use, to see if 'Feminine Products' are one they ask for money for..

Then there's Me, Im a recovering addict, been in jail a few times, and the first thing the Long-termers tell you to do, is to develop a Pen-pal.. Some give that advice as a friend, some DEMAND it, and eventually extort the other inmate.. But as for my own self,..SURE I was all about Church and Doing better with my life, and I MEANT it, so why wouldn't I be able to make YOU believe it too? ...Then I got out. Lmao, poor naïve people, I felt little remorse for not changing my ways once I was out on the streets again, the way I see it, I didn't lie to them, I believed my own b/s too, when I said it..

Now lets talk about the #1 reason for most peoples incarceration in the U.S.,..DRUG related offenses. Sure it sucks they don't get proper rehab in there, but would it help? No, most who seek help on the outside still cant quit, only about 5% of addicts ever successfully quit, this is from my Doctor who's spent his life helping recovering addicts.. SO, if they didn't stop and got locked up for it, their not gonna lose that 'hustling habit' while locked up.. They find access to illegal phones, and run game from inside..

For anyone to chastise Terry for his experiences being more bad than good, You're a bunch of retards, and if I ever get locked up again, I DO hope I find You if I ever want 'a more luxurious life in prison',..mark my words, IM GOOD.. I used to sell plastic, worthless trinkets on the street for a commission, and my 'Skill' worked well in that job, learning peoples' weaknesses, then workin it.. I made bank.. Lots of it. So back off of insulting the guy, its HIS experiences and HIS thread, start your own thread if you're that passionate about it.., and keep in mind your experiences wont be everyon else's, hell we're getting hustled right now by a family member, and most likely, it's to support her stupid Butch Girlfriend.. Im sorry, but LIFE ON THE OUTSIDE is harder than LIFE on the INSIDE now, the price of food, and hygiene products is going higher, and we lose electricity if WE cant pay the bills.. Then there's the cost of life in every other aspect..

My main feeling on this subject, what YOU wanna do, and don't blame anyone but yourself if you get hustled, don't blame the inmate,..You knew ahead of time what he/she COULD have been.. Blame yourself.. But if you DO have a Good Christian heart, you'll take that chance because to be Christian IS to forgive, and one thing I can tell Terry, is some DO reform, I haven't touched pain pills or dope in over 4 years come this November 15,..and haven't been back to jail in almost 6 years.. I don't plan on ever going back either.. Good luck to all of you, but a lot of you need to learn to stop being so narrow-minded,..some of you will lose experiences cuz of it, and the other half of you, will be victimzed quite often if you don't learn to see from both sides of the argument..

Like the whole: What about the prisoner's feelings - ... I ask you, What about their victim's feelings?.. Stop being so small'll have a fuller experience in life..

MissDexter 3 years ago

I have read your article and I understand you are writing this blog to warn women! I have worked several years with inmates and know also alot of pen pals. What I have noticed in the years, alot of these pen pal women have issues too (not all), but I have seen some crazy shit passing by! From female lawyers are secretly into being a pen pal to women who opens prison businesses for their so called inmate lovers! Even Corrlinks is a bitch at times. I have seen emails floating around which should end up at other people. I know some inmates who are playing some faul games. They don't care because they have nothing to lose! What is finally going to stop is death row marriages on Texas Death row! It's rediculous women fight for killers and pedofiles! So many European women go to Death Row and marry a man who is not able to return back in the reality and I see these women fight online about their lover's innocence. These pen pals are weird people! These pen pals feels sorry for these inmates, but they forget what they have done! Then America isn't the only country in the world holding inmates. But it seems pen pals are only interested for American drama! If someone got locked up in Russia, China, Middle east or Africa. No one cares! not even a prison pen pal!

katekiwi 3 years ago

I recently started writing a prison pen pal. I carefully thought out who I'd write to, what I could accept as far as offences. I am lonely, yes, but I can never remarry and I am a devout Christian. I realized from watching numerous prison shows like Lock up that sending postage money would be part of the gig. My pen pal, has refused so far my offer of a few dollars for postage and commissary, but I intend to send $10 a month as long as he wants to write. My faith tells me that I am to help prisoners and the poor. He speaks a foreign language and is helping me learn it I couldn't afford a tutor on the outside. If someone is incarcerated and has very little can they write if they don't have postage. AS long as he doesn't make unreasonable demands or ask me to do things illegal, I will continue to write and continue to do it as part of my effort to do charitable acts. Any one would be insane to go to a prison pen pal site looking for love....key is keep it in perspective. Giving a needy person $10 a month is nothing, and at least you know where it's going, not lining some fatcat preachers pocket. Also even if the inmate is saying nice things just to say them it's nice to get a pleasant letter, and nice to write someone other than your immediate circle of friends. HOnestly I hope my new friend does have several ladies he corresponds with, it'll keep him busy, and I certainly can't afford big bucks so I would be happy to know he will get a few extra dollars a month from everyone.....BUT like I said in the beginning he has refused to accept even a dollar so far. Again, I believe it is all about perspective and motive. Dont' go looking for love in prison, and remember ass, gas or grass no one rides for free. If you want to recive letters from an inmate,ya gotta pay for the ride someway. It's all about perspective.

Donna Baldwin profile image

Donna Baldwin 4 years ago from Paris, Illinois

I believe that we are all longing for that special love we may not have in our lives, we seek to find it in places that we know there are other lonely people as well. I can't personally think of a better place than someone who is locked up and may not have any family on the outside as mail time is a very lonely time if they have no one in their life. So we go to a penpal site looking for that one person we really want to get to know. The more we write them, the closer we are going to be to them, as if in normal life we meet someone and get to be friends with them. The more you know each other the closer you become. Friendships grow like that, relationships grow.

There are always going to be users and there are givers. Look at all of the Nigerian 419 Spam that goes around just like any other game that is played. Rich people and people with money have a way of finding theirself being prey to being used, look at the statistics of the people that actually gave away their money in the Nigerian fraud and were stupid enough to go there thinking they were going to come home even richer than they were.

I believe women are vulnerable for the most, I feel lonely so I write to inmates but they know that I don't have any money and they don't ask me for money they are happy to receive letters from me at mail call. That letter under their door means the world to them, it takes them out of the place they are even if for just a moment they can be happy. But there are alot of women and men too that think they have to buy their love so they give and give. If someone is that stupid as to give that much money away to an inmate that they may not even have never met whose fault is it? It's the person who gave the money because they were naïve. It could happen anywhere not just prison.

Humans as a whole can both be users, don't let this other post stop you from writing someone who may be very special and need your friendship. Just remember that you don't have to buy love. I have written to inmates since I have been 15, I am now 48 and I have never been used by an inmate. I have met the wrong guys in my life but that is for another story. Good luck and happy penning.

random person 4 years ago

What's funny is that some of the commenters are so upset and denying this happens. Then why were you googling it to find the page in the first place? Did you have doubts? Were you curious? And why? Think about it.

No, not every inmate will scam you. But they may be scamming someone else. And they may be scamming you also or just being dishonest. Be careful to pay attention to what they tell you. If they ask you to do favors etc. If you aren't comfortable then don't do it. If you start to do it and realize it seems odd then tell the person sorry I don't feel comfortable.

It does happen a lot. The people I have written to have never asked me for money. I have been sent cards, drawings, and even a check. But that doesn't mean that I suddenly put all my trust in the person I write. I am still fully aware of what they say and what I will do if asked. Stand your ground. I wait for the day that someone tries to ask me to bring in contraband for them. F THAT! I'm walking right out the door and ending all communication if that happens. And as far as contacting people out here I am hesitant even when I know for a fact it's family by doing research online. The prison gangs have all types of people doing things and codes. You just have to be very careful and let the person know you aren't trying to do any favors.

nick 4 years ago

I wanted to comment on Terry's post of making many mistakes to land in prison. I was 18 years old and had never been arrested or seen the inside of jail in my life, the worst I had done was maybe a speeding ticket or traffic infraction. I was in a car with some people who I thought were friends and was pulled over and something was found that landed me in federal prison for 36 months. This was my first felony and my last. It happened 15 years ago this summer. So yes you can go to prison without having made many mistakes prior. If you would like if I see a response to this I will email you my inmate number so you can look up my info and see this was the case. Im not here to argue or start a new thread about this subject just wanted to respond to some comments I saw posted on here.

In response to your article I have to agree, majority of inmates are scammers and use people to get financial gain while inside. Ive seen it many times myself. I think people are missing the point that you are just letting people know that it happens and be careful if you do decide to become a pen pal.

babies momma 4 years ago

I will be honest on here. I have a child with an inmate. He was abusive and our relationship did not survive his 3rd prison bit. I met him after time two and follwed through time 3. He is a scam artist. He may not scam others out of money as he tries to do to me but he will scam them out of there heart easily. He has no care for others feelings. Its about him. He likes control and it amusing him how what he says he can use to gain control. I don't think this article is a slam on writing to inmates. I think being someone penpal could be a good thing. As far as romantic relationships I don't think that is such a good idea. You don't know them fromm before they went in so how do you know they truly changed. There are women out there that do this and bring these dudes into there childrens lives. I have a child with an inmate and don't want him in my childs life. To be honest my BD describes prison like its going to camp. He can play sports, watch tv, work out etc. He had so many chances before he ended up in prison every single time. He made the choice to go back there. He can do whatever he wants with no responsilbility in there. I think prisoner should not have tv, should have to do hard manual labor, no college and no contact with the world. Maybe than they would realize what they lost. Shit my BD has a far easier life than I do. I have to go work daily and raise a four year old all by myself. I would rather have my life than his but he sits on his ass doing things he loves and is not responsilble for anything. He even has access to video games. Cmon its way to comfy he isn't going to change. I think he should be working hard manual labor 16 hours a day and sending me child support instead of me having to be on food stamps. It was my choice to get pregnant by him but that was during his phase of faking he was a changed man. Once I had the baby all that changed. I find this information to be a good thing. My BD has told me stories from his previous bits telling me there are tons of guys who do this stuff to women. He has told me time and time again and shown me when you lock up a bunch of liked minded people who have committed crimes they sit around and talk about there crimes and learn how to do them better. Big reason for repeat offenders. Bottom line is im sure there are some good men in there but when entering into a serious relationship these men in particular already have flags of making serious bad decision and a big part of surving prison is psychology and learning how to play people

teamyoung 4 years ago

I've read your article, and while I know of such stories, I don't think it is correct to state that every prisoner is a scam-artist! I am engaged to a prisoner and we started out as pen-pals as well. From letters, to phone calls, to visits, to me moving across country in order to be closer to him. He has never asked for any penny, nor stamps and neither a package! He instead is more worried about my financial situation! He wants me to do good! I am in touch with his family, his children and friends. Coming back to your topic, I was the victim of a scam-artist on the "outside"! This person ran off with $4600!!! But not once have I stated that every man on the outside can be seen as a scam-artist! That wouldn't be fair, correct? So, not every prisoner can be seen as a scam-artist either! Yes, there's a lot of pressure on being a prison-wife, and not every woman can deal with those sacrifices, but I know many many women, just like me, who are faithful, loyal, dedicated, and supportive to their significant other in prison. To be honest, I know more who are, then who aren't! I absolutely believe that some men do write "sweet" letters to pen pals in the hope of receiving support. I visit every weekend on both days, and I see every Saturday and every Sunday the same people. Many many prisoners never receive a visit--many have been forgotten by family, many don't have a support system. As much as I condone the scams you've written about, I think it has become a survival mechanism.

Kitty Hernandez profile image

Kitty Hernandez 4 years ago

Thank you so much for this! I am currently writing a prison pen pal right now. We have been writing back in forth for 3 months already and he hasn't asked anything from me just my friendship and letters. But he is a great guy and a great friend. I am sure he is one of those few that want an honest friendly relationship. I am sure I still have to take extra caution. Yet again thank you for this great article! I am sure it helped answer a lot of answers people might have had.

smart101 4 years ago

I applaud you for sharing your work/life experience in order to reach people who may get conned by an incarcerated con. We all know there are cons everywhere in the world. We need only to read the newspaper, turn on the t.v., have an experience to share, or hear from a friend(s), relative, etc. how they were conned. Most of us want to believe there are good, honest, loving, caring people....and there are. Some of us are caretakers,rescuers, needy, lonely, have low self-esteem, and may be going through a rough, vulnerable time and/or haven't dealt with our past. This can set many people up for being conned/used. As a result, a relationship with someone incarcerated can feel safe, idealic, romantic, and fill a need that is otherwise empty. Why? Because you don't wake up with that person and have to deal with the everyday realities of being in a relationship, like mutual finances, caring for children, arguments, housekeeping, realtionship, family, employment issues that arise when two people live together. When you're corresponding with an inmate (who's using/conning) you're generally in a "honeymoon stage"....hearing what you want to hear. The inmates who do con (not all do) people on the outside, are extrememly proficient at reading people. They've fined tuned it for survival in prison, on the street, in a familial setting, etc. You are correct when you say these particular inmates use people on the outside to send money, have a legitimate place/home to go to when applying for parole, to bring drugs in the jail, to relay communications. Unfortunatley, we tend to do more research when buying a car, a house, or any other investmnet than we do with relationships. I sincerely hope your readers will see your information for what it really is and the courage it took for you to express it. Like you stated: 'Again I appreciate your comments, as my basis for this blog was to warn people of potential scams, to educate them on what to look for. A majority of you have given good advise, set boundaries etc.. thanks again.' I'll add, if it fits, take it as useful information. If it doesn't then it need not apply to your particular situation. If you have a very strong negative reaction to what Terry is saying, ask yourself why? I don't know about others, but I tend to shut out responses/posts that personally attack Terry for wanting to reach out and inform vulnerable (or not) people who may get caught in the web of being conned.

Jen 4 years ago

Its sad because this is a lesson people have to experience before they can learn from it. I didn't get taken for any money cuz I never sent a dime nor did he ask but I did get taken for my heart. I don't believe every single person in lock up is like this but I know a majority of them are. I made a huge mistake but I learned from it. Do I hate him? No! and believe it or not in time I will forgive him but I will never forget. I don"t want him in my life and I wish him all the best and I hope women read your article and take it seriously because it is very true!

Erik 4 years ago

I just started to write to inmates because I do have hope that some of them are really trying to make themselves better or looking for moral support. At the same time, I think it is prudent for anyone writing these people to do a little background check to verify some of the claims these people make on these prison pen pal ads. One case in point was a man who wrote how he was tricked into making a confession because he has dyslexia. Yet in his ad he lists all the books he likes to read. He failed the polygraph and claims it was rigged. His own lawyer took his house and land. Curiosity got the best of me so I looked up what he had done. He was a child molester who had sexually assaulted his own kids as well as others. This happened over a period of two years. Details of his home life and living conditions gave further proof that this was not a man wronged by society. He ran a puppy mill with his wife and had dozens of dying or dead dogs on his property. Later his wife was charged with knowing about the abuse and not reporting it. In conclusion, after reading all the reports and news articles, I can say this man was looking for something other than a friend to write to. So do your homework before writing these people. If they are repeat offenders, presenting themselves as a "saint" that is being persecuted, or talk like a gangbanger proceed with extreme caution or find someone else. I don't want to discourage people from writing inmates just that you check out who you are writing to and keep your guard up.

cindy 4 years ago

I Have a question i know the answer is probably obvious to others but im kinda blinded right now ... here is my story .. i met my babys daddy in the summer of 2006 and we were on and off till december he always broke up with me then got back together for a while till i got pregnate well to make a long story short he left me and i ended up leaving san antonio and moved to my hometown never in 3 years prior to his arrest did he try to contact his daughter or send her any money .. i had heard in 2007 he was with another woman and she had 3 little boys and was pregnate with his child as well .. when it was about 2008 he got sentanced to 10 years he has now done 4 and has a possibility for parole in a year and a half .. i decided to write to him to only tell him about his daughter ... well he wrote back and we have been writing for about 6 months now ... at the 3 month he had asked me for 20 dollars and said if not it was ok .. but i ignored the question and nothing was ever said .. now its the 6th month and he asked me again saying he loves me and how i wrote him out of the blues .. and how he wants to make everything right and he was young and stupid and just wanted to be on the streets that was his excuse as to why he always left me .. mind you when he was with me before all this he never told me i love you or even talked to me all that much it was just mainly sex i mean i met his family and went out with him and stuff but he always pushed me aside .. when my daughter was 3 months we went to see him cause he bought me a ticket to go see him and told me he wanted to work things out .. to only 4 days later he told me he wanted nothing to do with me .. he never he never denied his daughter though he knew she was his .. but my question is does it sound like he is using me or does he really love me .. I MEAN IF HE DIDN'T WANT ME THEN WHY ALL OF A SUDDEN DOES HE WANT ME NOW .. ???? PLEASE LET ME KNOW YOUR POINT OF VIEW ON MY SITUATION THANK YOU

Tabitha 4 years ago

why do inmates get there phone flagged?

Mely 4 years ago

They all use you for something. Use you for money or use you emotionally..... In my situation he mind effed me so good. At one point he had me sending 500 at a time. But i cant blame him, i blame myself. Because everybody warned me before. They arent in prison for being good, they took part of something bad to land them in there. They all slam/smoke dope. They're all the same! Now im stuck with him calling me from different cellphones i cannot have him stop . I don't know what to do.

Nicole King 4 years ago

I think Terry's article was a very fair one. People on this forum keep comparing politicians and other people who commit scams to prison inmates but sorry to say the big difference is that people in prison have committed a crime that society has deemed them necessary to be locked up for. And on top of being guilty for whatever crime they commit some are whole heatedly scamming people. I think Terry's article was not written to offend people just to open someone's eyes to the fact that some ppp are not all of what they seem. I for one liked the article not having much experience writing inmates and just last week I gave it a go. I liked having the warning signs to monitor for if and inmate is trying to use you for more than just communication. I think everyone in life deserves a second chance and human contact but truth be told you should always exercise caution when writing to someone in prison. They aren't in prison for baking cakes. The rude an demeaning comments are not necessary when all he is trying to do is fore warn someone of something bad that could possibly happen. To everyone with a good pen pal relationship I wish them much happiness but it is always wise to use caution because a person on paper is never the same as being with someone face to face.This article is just a precaution.

ForeverLoyal 4 years ago

If you are thinking about writing someone you met on a pen-pal website I highly recommend a book called "Players Exposed - How Men Manipulate Women" By Timothy Richardson and Eugene Weems. You can find the book on Amazon. It is written by two inmates. They talk about the things inmates do and say to manipulate women. I guarantee that after you read this book you will think twice about being in a relationship with a prisoner.

Eve 4 years ago

Some men still play games after being released

Janell 4 years ago

I have written several inmates and One particular inmate I have been writing now for about 7 years. He is a good man and I love him dearly, We are supposed to marry when he gets out.. This is a good service but however some inmates just want to get money from you and that isn't right

GJ 4 years ago

I wrote to someone at Corcoran and now I've been getting letters from inmates I didn't initially write too. It's the exact same kind of intro as you described, "You don't know me, but so and so gave me your address and said you might want to write. blah blah blah" So and so, says he didn't give my info to anyone. Which one of these prisoner's should I trust? And if the stranger one didn't get it from "so and so", how did he obtain it? Do they dig old mail out of the trash or what? My husband about had fit when he collected the mail to find prison mail from two DIFFERENT inmates at Corcoran. Should I just ask them not to write or ignore them?

lisafae 4 years ago

I found an inmate on "inmate pen pals" and he stated in his profile how lonely he was and that he was just looking for companionship. So I wrote him. We exchanged a few letters and I guess it was on about the 3rd letter he just told me he needed money and if I wasn't going to send it I could stop writing him. At least I can say he didn't "play" me. He told me exactly what he wanted. I never wrote again.

cdanlser72 4 years ago

I think the idea of this article is to make people aware of the "music of a convict". I heard this term from a friend of mine that I dated back in high school, and maintained contact with him through his in and out bouts in prison over the last 20+ years. He never asked me for anything, but he knew the person I was and I would help him out from time to time. I married him after being home on leave for only two weeks. I saw him a total of 3 days since we've been married. (Because I left the country), I supported him and his what I found out after, his crack habit. I am persuing a divorce but no one will give me his girlfriends address. He has since got locked up again and now he is at my parents house, asking for money and calling me crying that he is homeless, while he is living with his girlfriend. I was angry but that was stupid on my part. I had just been divorced after 17 years of marriage and am institutionalized in my own way having spent 20 in the military. That is a positive institutialisation for the most part. He always told me how much he loved me, but we nevr had any promises. To skip ahead, my god son is locked up and I ended up talking to one of his friends who would let him use his cell phone. I was grateful that someone was looking out for my godson so I in turn started communications. 2 months later Im all in love and living this fairytale "relationship". This man has asked nothing of me (like my "current 3 day husband" never asked anything from me. The scam with that is some people know you are a bleeding heart after just a couple conversations and know you'll send money anyway. My "husband" started telling me of the scams that do go on and confirmed that he in fact did the same many times through the years. Such as passing around your address, personal information, so you can become "hit" by others when they get out" So there is no real connection. Hell even this guy im talking to tells me of the scams going on where he is, but of course he has no part in it. He even gave me his mothers information to contact her. Im thinking who would do that if they aren't serious right... WRONG. Dude calls me for two months, we talk 4-5 hours a day, im 7 hours behind so when im not working we are talking, laughing and reading to one another. He is reading all these poems he wrote (me none the wiser) thinking wow, he's so romantic. He has a email account and he gave me his passwords, etc. I never would check it because Im thinking why would he give it, he has nothing to hide. WRONG! he is signed in to dating websites for people in his local area! His mom tried to explain, once I told him we were done, that he was doing it because he needed money and was going to try to get some that way. He then contacted me to swear he'd never do anything to hurt me and he never actually went through it. My "husband" explained that that was the "music of a convict". I then just strated to research specific games that ARE played, admitted by a fellow convict and a current convict. When I read this article on Games that Inmates Play, it was almost verbatim! My ex husband of 17 years was not a criminal, but he lied all the time, so yes people lie. However, what I think Mr. Davis is doing is pointing out that there IS a game amoung inmates, maybe not all, but it is a common game. I also have to say that what rang MORE TRUE to me were the others that have been "runners" (as they are called amongst inmates) is in fact true in many cases, and that is more important than a % quoted, that is semantics. This man is not on trial, he is giving insight to what he knows and is not telling anyone what they should do. It's no different then Cosmopolitian magazine that bashes men in general, telling women how to make men love them, etc. Or telling women why men cheat. Mr. Davis has not done any bashing on anyone or glorifies the greatness of inmate guards, nor the CO's. Just like inmates there are some good and some bad. I never thought for a minute that inmates used poetry etc because I had no idea where they would get it with out it being in a library and copying it, or that was even a practice that is used because other than the friend I "married" the only convicts I know is family unfortunately. None of them have used this approach, nor did my "husband", but all of them that I have been in contact with are liars (including my family). It is something to be aware of and im sure there are some success stories as in any relationship. Yea, everyone is a crook (politicians, Soldiers, police, etc), but in the last statement, google it and im sure you'll find articles on all the games those people play as well, or just turn on the evening news and it's right there in front of you. THIS type of thing is not published or discussed on tv or has a high attention rate, but it exhists, do thank you Mr. Davis. I do fight for freedom of speech so I take that to heart, and you have a right to speak on your experiences. Maybe your article isn't titled The Games That People Play is because you are more versed in this area, or The Games Politicians Play, because well, your not a politician, it's not a hard concept to understand that this is in fact true information that is confirmed by the many people who have responded to their situations dating back a few years. I have to cut my loses with this guy, because I will not fall victim to getting played, as my "husband" says, peep game. They can "Peep" it from a mile away!

Kendra 4 years ago

Games Inmate Play??

What's next?

Games Politicians Play?

People play games!

Not just men, women too.

Terry B. Davis profile image

Terry B. Davis 4 years ago Author

Amanda, I have never heard of an inmate being charged for a report. However, if an inmate is found guilty of a violation of title 15 it is possible for him to be assessed a fine to cover the cost of his violation. Usually I have only seen this attempted when inmates filed a false report which required an investigation, which cost the state money. I have never seen or heard of any fines actually being assessed.

Hope this helps.

Eltaria, thanks for your comments.

Just a note to everyone, since Dave has no image and even if he did I would worry about giving out an email address, it is a good idea to never give out that type of info. on a blog, but I am always a little bit leery of such requests.

Everyone take care and thanks for the great comments.

magnumcash 4 years ago

No it's the same peson here.. Just joined under this username. Wasn't initially joined when the last posting about correspondence with inmate was made- but was able to place a comment. Email is The last posting placed was a serious inquirie. Again thanks for everyone's concerns.

Dave 4 years ago

Hello again,

It seems as though some of the negative posts about correspondence with inmates in general are being made by the same person, but they are using multiple names. I would like to ask AGAIN if anyone experiencing what they believe to be inmate fraud would be willing to post an email and even a name if you are comfortable. There is definitely some disingenuous posting taking place on this thread. It becomes hard to take anything anyone posts seriously.


magnumcash 4 years ago

To Terri, I have been dealing with an inmate for several months now. I am having a problem with his overall communication. Sometimes I feel that this inmate is indirectly probing for money and when confronted on

what I hear or experience- he becomes defenses. He informed me that in regards to being in the California Prison, he had received an incident report for not locking down on time and how the officers charge for an incident report. I have never heard a fee for an incident report in any prison. Do you know anything about this at Victorville USP? I agree with you regarding some of the inmate scams out there. I would highly encourage family/ love ones or friends of their

inmate to not be blind and ask questions. Thanks for everyone's comments and concerns.

Eltaria 4 years ago

While I thought Terry’s opening statement “Inmate's having nothing to do, except think up new con's to play on unsuspecting, friends, family and pen-pals. “ was harsh and a gross overgeneralisation of the general prison population, I feel that overall, his article is not without his merits. Inmates who employ cons and scams to trick trusting and naïve individuals of the free world into giving them money is a VERY REAL PHENOMENON. It has happened before, it is still happening, and it will happen again. Terry narrates accurately an example of how a pen-pal scam can take place. What I feel Terry’s main point in writing this article is simply to WARN people of the dangers and risks involved in corresponding with a prisoner as a pen-pal, to get people aware of how such a scam works and to not become potential victims to such scams. True, his article lacks strong evidence to back up some of his claims- he references only from what he has seen in his job at the DoC in California and extends it to the entire prison population in USA, and cooks up a percentage, that “99.9% of the time it is a scam” simply based on his own experience. But from what I see, Terry never set out to say absolutely, “All inmates who correspond with pen-pals are out to scam their money”, he simply set out to warn. His poor choice of an article title and opening statement unfortunately riled many readers up masked the real intention of his article.

That said, I am aware that some people are going to start flaming me for seemingly taking Terry’s side on this. I would just like to clarify that I am currently writing to 2 prisoners regularly, both of whom are lovely and nice people who were just lonely in prison and wanted correspondence with people in the free world. I enjoy writing to them, and they’ve given me sound advice on many occasions. They’ve never asked for anything from me other than my letters, and certainly our pen-pal friendship journey in no way resembled the pen-pal scam that Terry had so painstakingly described in his article. Anybody who bothers scrolling through Write a Prisoner’s forums can see that there have been MANY POSITIVE EXPERIENCES from people who have corresponded with pen-pals. Some even go on to establish romances with their pen-pals and others go further on to marry them. Forum members also look out for each other and alert one another to inmates who seem like potential conmen, though these are far and few cases. So while I am WELL AWARE that not all prisoners are bad people- some simply made wrong choices, others had no choice but to do what they had to do under the circumstances they were in, and yet others were simply at the wrong place at the wrong time- we cannot be blind to the fact that bad people exist in there as well. Oh what the heck, bad people exist EVERYWHERE (as many readers have pointed out), so one has to always be vigilant and be on the lookout for con artists. Like Terry said in his first reply to a reader, “There are two sides to everything, nothing in this world is absolute.” I couldn’t agree more.

I would like to conclude by saying this: To all those who are thinking of writing to prisoners, it’s an exciting and fulfilling experience, and you can gain beautiful friendships from it, while at the same time promoting the worthy cause of reducing recidivism through letters; however, bear in mind the dangers and risks that come with corresponding with any stranger. To all those who’ve just started writing to prisoners, congratulations on taking the first step! However, if your pen-pal journey seems to resemble that which Terry has described, be wary! I guess the safest thing to do is to stop corresponding with that inmate, especially if he starts asking for money or things of monetary value. And finally, to all those who’ve written to prisoners long enough and have established steady friendships/relationships with their pen-pals, well, I guess you know what you’re doing!:)

Dave 4 years ago

Hello Amanda-

Would you please post an email address? If any of you are claiming fraud via inmate correspondence, I’d like to reply to you, so please include an email address.

Thank you,


amanda 4 years ago

Thanks for the comments.! I have been talking to an inmate for several months now and he said something

that I found myself questioning. At Victorville USP,

he had supposedly gotten an incident report for not

locking down on time and claimed to be charged for

the incident report. I have never heard any prison

charging for incident reports. He ended up requesting

for money in regards to this matter and I haven't sent

it. I wanted to know the policies on incident reports.

Ashley Wilson 4 years ago

Thank you Terry Davis for this article.

There is one thing I can agree with you on, and that is that sometimes people do bad things; such as, scamming others. Furthermore, people do need to take precaution when dealing with others, especially inmates.

However, I disagree with you on the fact that a penpal service should NOT be available to inmates. Services such as, "" provide an extremely positive and necessary opportunity. The opportunity to bridge the gap between the healthy, functioning community and the inprisoned community. The bringing together of these two communities through relationship can mean a world of a difference for some inmates. Of course, there are dangers in allowing these relaionships to be formed and it would be very beneficial for the companies that run penpal services to put up certain rules and warnings, which in fact they do. However, certain precautions are completely the choice of the person that writes an inmate.

To conclude, there are dangers in writing to an inmate, but the good that can come of the opportunity to build a relationship with an inmate is substantial. I myself write an inmate named Seth. My motives in writing to him are only to: bridge a gap between the outside world and the inprisoned world, and to show care by being a friend to him (and only a platonic friend). I take precaution by not sending him pictures of myself and not sending him money or critical information like credit card numbers and so on. I believe that penpal services are wonderful and very necessary, but like many relationships, people should take specific precautions.

Rina 4 years ago

THANK YOU for saying there ARE bad staffmembers.

Remember the story of the wolf in sheep clothes

Terry B. Davis profile image

Terry B. Davis 4 years ago Author

moral authority to forgive someone for doing something to someone else. We can all forgive injustices done to us, but we never forget as that is how we learn and grow.These postings have one thing in mind, to those people who are so trusting and take anyone and everyone at their word, for them to understand when dealing with inmates trust through verfication, and common sense things to protect themselves. As far as health care, even today I see the State of Californias new mandate that every prisoner over the age of 50 to have a colon exam which can only be done at out of prison hospitals. Several times a week 3 to 6 prison transports can be seen going to the hospitals. Hospitals love inmates and they are given every test, and procedure known to man since the state carries the bill. Terminal inmates elect to have all procedures and never worry about cost. I have sat at the bedside of three close relatives, who's terminal conditions could have extended life maybe several months had costly procedures been done, and the quality of life would not be improved.They did not want to waste money and put their loved ones thru the ordeal. They passed at home with family and friends. I took care of one relative for 8 months, sat 12 hours in hospitals for months.

Prisoners can file complaints against staff, however so many false complaints are filed that it tends to obscure the real ones. Many inmates try to use this process as a lottery. Don't missunderstand, there are bad staff I had long fought to have staff be checked by K-9s on entering to work, thanks to unions this never happened. I have seen staff fired for sex with inmates (male and female),bringing in drugs and contraband, excessive force and everything in-between. As in all jobs a small percentage are no good period. However, inmates tend to have a high percentage of those always running a game or a scam. Thru all my years as a parole agent, my guide for reccommending discharge from parole was very simple, do I want them living next door to me? Yes, I have reccommended several to be released early from parole. Remember I was dealing more times than not with gang members and their associates, level 4 and several level 5 inmates/parolees.

I have no thoughts about people that write to inmates one way or the other, I just hate to see good caring people get taken advantage of. I understand that people that have a connection to inmates feel that they must attack people that disagree with them. However, I believe that if you enjoy writing to inmates its your right, enjoy yourself. If you choose not to then again its your right. Make no mistake I have seen these things, all the things available too them. However, when a lockdown happens everything comes to a stop, but again that is due to the actions of the inmates.

As far as punishment for ever, you must remember that all our actions have reactions. In a down economic market where unemployment is high and employers have a wide selections of potential people to hire, who would you hire to handle your cash, your property, your customers. I have seen employers who have given inmates a chance and a majority of the time it doesn't work out, but sometimes it does. As for me based on their case, and criminal history I might hire a ex-con but to be honest, I would more than likely hire the one that did not go to prison all other factors being equal.

Just remember the story of the snake and the scorpion.

betty newberry 4 years ago

might I also add that I have found prison guards to be not only not so smart, but bullies, and people whom are resentful and like to be mean. I just cannot take what you say to heart because having been exposed to your type, I no longer trust what you say!

betty newberry 4 years ago

Not all inmates are con artist.

Rina 4 years ago

Terry, please tell me what prison you are talking about because I have NO idea ..... all you say and respond to (which by the way are all those that agree with you)is not familiar .... when you talk about all the things the prisoners can do to stay bussy, to educate themselves, so keep their minds occupied to better themselves .... how they get food that the keepers eat .... hmmm??? I wonder how long ago you actually were a keeper ..... becuase NONE even rings a bell .... the prison where my friend lives they have taken EVERYTHING away, ... they are LUCKY if they get to go outside and then the only thing they CAN do is walk in circles ... football??? baketball??? Well let me tell yo ...... NOTHING ..... I think you remember things that you THINK are so .... but are NOT!!!!

And don't even talk about the health care, how can you say it better then yours and mine when in fact when my friend wants to get his eyes checked it takes over a year to get it done and in the mean time his eyes get worse.. how they hold his legal mail for days ..... The games that are played in prison are the ones played by the keepers who have the power to do as they please and there is NOTHING the prisoners can do about it.

Terry you make it out to be something its not ..... but then again maybe you just wrote this to get some attention. So Terry .... how you do feel about all of us that DO write inmates... ignorant maybe? .... well there is one thing we CAN do and you can NOT .... and that is forgive.

You want all of these humans to be pusnisched for ever, take everything away from them and even more.

RIA 4 years ago





Terry B. Davis profile image

Terry B. Davis 4 years ago Author

Heidi, thank you for your comment. However, I don't believe your son made a mistake and ended up in prison. Unless he killed or injured someone seriousley. It takes many mistakes before you go to prison. I also noted your comment is all about your son his feelings and that he is not a bad person or has a bad heart, he just does bad things. I can't count the number of parents who are enablers for their criminal children. I have had parents tell me their child is good, its the laws that are bad. Their child likes guns and should be allowed to have them. They have a drug problem and need help. I also have had numerous inmates claim that anyone could make a mistake and end up in prison, this is used to justify their incarceration as the result of unfairness towards them. As far as how would I like not having a TV, or not having this or that. I did not hurt people, or take their property to place myself in that situation. Have I been without them things, yes. I obeyed laws worked long and hard for what I have. I'v slept on the floor, ate off a cable spool, set on milk crates, no TV, nor Radio, I worked 40 hours a week and paid my way through school. In the military I lived on the economy, worked nights, and had very little contact with any english speaking people for three years. When i came back it took about three months before I felt like I belonged, it was like watching everyday life as a movie and I was a spectator. It took several years to stop reacting to certain noices that most people don.t even notice. The bottom line is you raised your child for at least 18 years and he ended up in prison, and you expect someone else to fix him in several years? Some of the most dangerous people in our prison system and on the street can be very pleasant, kind and understanding and have no problem or quam about killing you, and they would sleep well afterwards. The only person that can make their re-entry successful is them, you can't do it and I can't and the State most certainly can't do it.

Heidi 4 years ago

My son is in prison in Colorado and he very much looks forward to mail he receives. It is the highlight of his day. He has had a couple of females write to him form Write a Prisoner and has not asked for money or anything from anyone - he just wants to be in touch with people from the outside and have someone his age to correspond with. I have been putting money on his books so he can have phone time, buy stamps and sometimes buy items from the 'catalog' like a blanket to help keep him warm, or a coffee pot so he can have hot water to either make coffee or have hot water to use to for soup. All he wants is to have someone other than his Mom to correspond with who is his own age. I don't see anything wrong with that. Prisons in my opinion are just 'warehousing' of people. Yea, they say they are rehabilitating people, but to get into classes of any type takes a long time and may not happen ever depending on how long you are in there. And, with the shortage of jobs, there isn't much to keep the inmates occupied. Having someone to write to helps make their day go by faster as it gives them something to do. Maybe you should spend your day in a cell - possibly with no TV (unless you have had someone give you the money to buy one) - no radio, day after day and see how you would like it - when you have nobody to communicate with, or talk to from the outside. All people need human contact of some sort - the more positive the better. Most inmates do end up getting out and rejoining society. I think it would be better if we could keep them feeling they are a true member of society and try to help foster positive behavior and thought processes which could help them be more successful upon reentry. We all make mistakes - some of us learn by the school of hard knocks unfortunately. It doesn't mean they all have bad hearts or are bad people!

Veronica 4 years ago

First and foremost the reasons I write inmates is not because I am lonely, the reason I have done so is because, believe it or not, I get so tired of dating men out here and their intentions are not my intentions, all they do is talk about how physically attractive I am I can date all Iwant out here. My ex husband was an inmate, I met and married him in prison, he got out and we were together until he died of cancer. He was the love of my life, our communication was strong and faithful in and out of prison.

I currently am involved, with another gentleman, and and soon will be married also. as for monies, he sends me his check that he gets 9.00 a month, oh yes he does. I send him monies so we talk on phone, because, we both need each other's voices. I visit him I am the only one visiting him, I have proof that he only has my pics in his locker. People do change, we all have a past. I will not engage with child molesters or rapists. that is my code of conduct also. He uplifts me every day , I have met his kids and parents and family.

and that's my journey. I met him when I was laid off my job. and btw I get more leers and advaces from the guards than the inmates there, the men inside have a code of conduct, called respect,the guard did not, my boyfriend found out that the co had a thing for me, scoping me out when i went to visit to him. then one day i went and the guard didn't even look at me anymore. and mind you I always dress professional and modest, I am educated and carry myselft well, and maybe not all guards are that way, but I have found out that 99.5% are disrespectful to the inmates ladies, with their and leers and comments, I know it happens to me all the time.

jean 4 years ago

I have corresponed with an inmate for over a yr now. They have never once asked me to be anything other than a friend which I am to them. Too many are forgotten in prison where they are serving their time for their crime. We all make mistakes in life and need to be forgiven

Dan GayGirl 4 years ago

Terry you are very confused! You describe prison life as some type of Fantasy?! That is rude and insulting to all of the prisoners in the US alone(millions) that suffer and are permanently damaged from their experience from incarceration.-re:food is alot better than what I was given in the Military-how long ago was that lol!

The prison system you describe- being able to learn a trade and such- what is the point when as soon as they are released and apply for a job they are discriminated against for their past history!

lalexi 4 years ago

There are good ones and bad ones. my penpal never asked me for something but i know that he asks others for money. he's always telling me, that my letters helps him to overcome the days.

it was one of the best decicions i've ever made. we're friends for 5 years now and i've learned a lot to see things with different eyes and i know now how importand it is to look more behind the curtain. i'm very glad i've "met" him and i don't regret anything!

Terry B. Davis profile image

Terry B. Davis 4 years ago Author

All U penpals,

The definitions of scam is asking for something under false pretenses. Inmates, at least in California are feed well, as a matter of fact an officer is required to eat every meals off the line that is served to inmates and rate it. The food is alot better than what I was given in the Military. If they don't have a TV, they can watch a TV in a common area, however, almost without exception every cell had a TV, sometimes two, and a radio, they get required time daily in the yard where they play soccer, basketball, football, handball, some have tennis, putting greens(min. security). They can get books to read from the library, play board games, checkers, cards, if they have no money they are given 20 stamped envelopes monthly. Healthcare is better (now) then any insurance you or I have. They have access and are taken out to the best doctors in the area. If they want too they can go to school, or work, many institutions have trades that are taught. If they get money they can go to a small store and get sodas, chips cookies, ice cream, coffee, noodles, canned beans, roastbeef, and alomost anything that you are I can get at a store.

Morran 4 years ago

My daughter has been writing inmates for many years now and she often shares her experiences with me: She has never told me anything negative, all her stories are of a positive nature. I reckon that she has made great and trusworthy friends

nicole 4 years ago

i had been writing to my penpal for more than a year and he had never ask for anything and he is one of the sweetiest person i had ever meet,everyonne make mistakes and if a penpal ask for something its up to you to make the choice to are not to send its not like they demand you to send them anything,i think some of them ask for things because they need it some of them has no one to give them things like family members so they ask friends again its up to you if you send are don't send 4 years ago

now that the penpal participants have foumd this hub page are you still so jaded to think that we are all scammers and victims. the view seems very shortsighted.

Colin Mason 4 years ago

Myself and wife have been communicating with a female incarcerated in California,and not once has she asked for anything we have offered to send stationary to her but she has declined the offer,I would just like to say you cannot tarnish all prisoners because of a couple of bad apples,anyway you can get scammed just as easily on the outside as you can from the inside,We will keep writing to our friend and yes thats what we class her now,don't let it put you off

Lisa 4 years ago

Open up and let The Lord into your heart Terry B. Davis. Might help you have some compassion for other people. Treat others as you wish to be treated. You're a bitter man....I'll pray for you. God Bless!

Billy Spisak 4 years ago

I have written to female prisoners and I agree with you, they try and get money, stamps, etc... I don't blame them for trying but some guys and gals really think they ARE MAKING a love connection when in reality 99% of them are scamming your heart for money, but for 20 bucks a month its worth it to some people to have something to look forward too a letter telling them how awesome they are, its when they go the next step they will realize they have been taken adavatage of,

Chris Benjamin 4 years ago


I would like first say that there are good and bad prisoners. I have experienced both. But the vast majority appear to be good. Last year I received 13 birthday cards and 10 came from inmates. None came from family. I also received over 20 Christmas and today I got a Valentine's Day card and not to many the many other thank you cards I got.

Laureen Holt 4 years ago

"Complicity" and "scam" are NOT the same thing. Too bad the author of this blog post doesn't make that distinction!

I have been writing to male prison inmates for YEARS & not ONE of them (probably around 80, by now) has EVER asked me for anything of value. Not money, not stamps, not gifts, not anything. Why, I don't know. The topic has never come up in correspondence. Maybe that's the reason--I deal ONLY in correspondence--NO phone calls. Sometimes the inmate will tell me that he is to be released shortly, & can he meet me? I've consented to doing so a few times, when he has come to MY location, & then we meet in public, & he returns to his location or gets a motel room of his own. Never do I disclose my residence to anyone. I use a post office box for my mail.

I truly enjoy corresponding with inmates, & they have not been slack in telling me what a difference it can make in his day to get a letter from me. I write on very nice stationery, send notecards w/letters, postcards, birthday & other occasion/holiday cards. On 9 occasions so far, in 5+ years, I've encountered an inmate who truly was NOT guilty, OR, was gulity, but not of the crime he was convicted or pleaded guilty to. I will absolutely assist anyone I run into who pleaded guilty to armed robbery not knowing that the toy gun used in the crime constitutes "strong-arm" robbery--that comes with a significant difference in sentence. I helped a man who was doing 45 yrs for kidnapping & armed robbery to get his charges & sentence reduced to time served, 10 yrs 7 months, bcz the gun WAS a toy, though looked quite real.

I write to inmates on death row, in SuperMax prisons, in close & in minimum custody, in federal & state custody...all of them. I've yet to have a bad experience w/anyone I've written to; currently, I'm writing to 16 incarcerated people. When I start writing to another person. I send an "introductory" letter as my 1st one, & I lay down a few "ground rules"/expectations for the correspondence & advise not to write back if it's not what he's looking for, such as: don't expect phone calls, no sexual content/innuendos in letters, will not disclose my address, will send 1 photo of self in 5th letter, will write when I get response from him, I will reply to letter within 7 days of receiving his. Could be that for these "guidelines" that I do not have the trouble w/"scams."

I would not call what the author terms "scams" @ all. A correspondent has asked for a gift of $$/stamps. No one is "scamming" anybody when s/he is asked for something, & SAYS "YES." It isn't as though you're being caught unaware.....

sue 4 years ago

Thank you so much,Mr Davis for this information,

it has come at a critcal time for me,

since I have been writing several inmates for several years.

I do it out of respect, if I was in prison [i was falsely charged several times] I would want something productive to do while in there. otherwise I found jail made me unable to think and function.

You don't want these men your neighbors, but they will be soon.

and even tho a 10cent bullet is what they may deserve, we are not God,

and God has not given them what they deserve yet.

Do you think God will want us to take over his job?

Few of the people I write ask for a package, or even stamps. yet I have been robbed by men with no criminal record. I trust no one, and don't give my address, and am thinking about having no dealings with anyone,

6% percent of those in prison are women, Do I think that women are 94% better than men?

The truth is this world is passing away and full of people with animalistic desires. The less we tell people the less they can use it against us.

So the Balance of being respectful and not hanging out with those who secretly hate us is a pressing issue even when dealing with the law-abiding.

I know for a fact that those who are successful in prison do not hang out with just anyone. They keep to themselves.

I like the prison that allows them to have animals,to not rape fellow inmates and to work, and to have sex during visits with legal marriage mates. I think they should let them grow plants including pot. why waste time and money.

I think they should have access to education in some form to not waste the productive time they have, who knows they may find the cure for Aids/HIV!

Are we entertaining ourselves with the torture of others?

What type of movies do we like?

What are we doing to help mankind?

Perhaps researching edible plants that are high in nutrition, but don't need lots of costly fertilizers, bug spray,and not needing lots of water?

When they scam, and act like a snot I show them the decent way to act and not let them turn me into an animal.

because if you had a way to fix this problem, you or I would, well even more so does the designer of the earth want and promises to satisfy the desires of every living creature, and to wipe every tear from our eyes. he made this world to be a wonderful place and He Will Not Change His Mind.

Rina 4 years ago

Well what can I say..... what's the scam here.... what I know to be true is that MOST people don't recognize prisoners to be human, want to cut them of from the outside world, treat them horrible ... and when its a letter .... a simple hello to make them feel human again ... then its US that provide that .... and US are the ones that have compasion for our fellow man..

My words I share with a wonderful man, no scam, never asked for money ... just words, for him to know he is still alive and there IS somebody out there who cares for him.

I am from Europe and I can not figure out WHY these man and woman get treated the way they are.

This article named " The game that inmates play" makes me wonder what game this man plays ..... what is he to gain telling us this .... so many people in the States have an outspoken oppinion about inmates .. he tells us in this article he wants to educate people ... I will say this, educate those ignorant people that have a outspoken mind, educate them about what really happens in prison... tell them how prisoners are treated by keepers, how the food is horrible, how they have not had some fruit for decates, what those man and woman have to indure every single day again ... 24 hours a day.

Yes maybe there are some that will ask for things but its up to the pen pall to say yes or no ... and yes maybe SOME will scam ... but MOST don't and just want a kind word ..... if we all would look at this institution, its rules and regulation and how they are NOT holding their end of the deal.. change it around, treat these people as humans a LOT would change.

I WILL keep writing my friend ... and let me tell all that have been scamed DON'T blame the inmate ... blame yourself ... its YOU who shamed yourself....I can not stand people that point the finger at somebody else for their own stupidity.

I huray everyone that writes an inmate, give them some time, some kind words .. because they DON'T get it from anybody else....

"Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty."

"Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless."

These words come from a small woman with such a huge heart, she didn't judge she only loved and its love that reaches far far greater distances then the words of this man.

Mila Vinten 4 years ago

I've corresponded with several inmates, all were very respectful people, who wanted nothing but mails from outside. Lovely people who had made a mistake a long time ago, and had plenty time to regret it...

Amanda 4 years ago

To be honest I had a friend who was addicted to writing inmates and fell in love with them. She got me into writing an inmate. She carried on with 6-7 inmates at a time, she would put money on their books. I found that strangely odd. Maybe it is because I am very selfish and greedy with my money, I don't care if its 20 dollars or not that is my hard earned money. I have corresponded with the same inmate for over two years now. I have never sent any money to this inmate...I also haven't visited him. My friend was unemployeed and lived only on the child support her kids fathers gave her usually about 83 dollars a week and she would take 20 or so to put on one inmates books. I found it disgusting she would waste her childrens money on an inmate. That was an obvious scam if he had really cared for her and loved her like the plether of nonsence he spewed to her...he wouldn't want to take from her and her children. BUT lol if she was willing to give up her money why shouldn't he take it? She would drive 6 hours in a beat down ratty car to go see her and bring her infant daughter to the prison. AGAIN completely stupid. I'm sorry I am a mother of a 6 year old and I have another on the way...there is no way in hell i would take my children to a FED prison, honestly not even if it was my husband incarcerated as rude and mean as that sounds. Point of this comment is people make themselves a victim, I would be an idiot if I thought my inmate only spoke to me, and I am sure he does CON money out of the I just know he won't get my money he hasn't in 2 years and it wont start today. That and my husband would blow a gasket if I ever sent money to someone incarcerated. It just wouldn't happen, but then again my inmate has never asked me to send money, not to say he won't one day but I am not the one to ask. People have to remember 99 percent of inmates are guilty and didn't get there playing chess and helping senior citizens. MOST of them are hardcore criminals, with multiple play with fire you might just get burned. AND in the end you are the only one responsible for your actions :)

Mike Zealey 4 years ago

What a mean-spirited and cynical article. I'm writing to a prisoner at the moment and they just seem lonely and regretful of their past actions. Compassion and the belief that a person can change and learn remorse day in day out staring at a grey wall is very important in a caring world. Go in with your eyes open though as they are there in prison for a reason after all, but also make sure your eyes are full of love too.

Layzboy 4 years ago

Been writeing to inmates for 3 years now in many states, have over 30 inmates writeing... Have there been scamers... yes, But over all, most are just lonely, in need of Friendship! Some bad apples will always tant the rest, through most of them are still good people...

Jessica 4 years ago

writeing an inmate is only a bad thing, if you make it or think of it as a bad thing.

Jasminejay100 4 years ago

This piece IS interesting but no 2 prisoners are the same. I have been in-touch with 2 inmates for 3 years , previously unknown to me and 1 serving life. Neither , has ever written or suggested anything even approaching the type of stuff written in said blog.

Christin 4 years ago


I do not agree with you. Sure there might be black sheep out there - but they are also under people of the outside! I don't think you can say that all prisoners are bad. I am writing a few prisoners and I am in a relationship with one. He never once asked for money neither did the other ones I am writing. I am also in a forum from and I see good relationships and friendships. In my opinion the american prison system is really bad. Sure they have to make their time. But all things are so expensive in prison. Normal things you need like toothpaste and hygienes. They have to pay for that. Why? From receiving 20 cent an hours?! Come on! And the food is hardly enough for a man, but if they need more, they have to get it expensive. Why not starting to change some things in prison? Maybe then some inmate don't need to get money from their women or men. I can see in the outside more crime than in the inside of a prison. Thanks for listening.

Fiona 4 years ago

This article saddens me, I met my husband through a penpal website, he was incarcerated at the time, he in the USA and I was living in the UK at the time.

I have moved to the US, we were married last year and have a beautiful daughter.

There ARE decent guys wrongly convicted, and also ones who took the time out of respect for their friends etc.

Friends ask one another for stuff all the time on the outside, so why is it so wrong for a friend on the inside to ask for the same?

Some of these guys have no one, friends disappear when you are locked up, and a lot of families do also.

If it wasn't for websites like these, I truly believe that jailhouse suicides would escalate, whilst I agree that there are conmen like those you speak of above on these sites, there are also just as many out here in the free world!

Instead of labelling everyone the same, shouldn't we all give humankind a chance? After all, do we not ALL have forgiveness in our hearts for those in their hour of need?

If someone becomes too demanding of you, or you feel you are being manipulated, then surely you are adult enough to stop writing?

If you get a negative vibe, then don't do it. Simple as.

I know of MANY inmates who are decent guys, who made one dumb mistake, and they are locked away for serious stretches of time, others have been the scapegoat or as in the case of my husband, wrongly convicted by the lies of someone else, how comical it's Florida, no suprises there! 4 years ago

I write prisoners simply because I believe in the power of hope in strangers. I also like receiving mail. I like the distance and unavailability. I like watching the letters, the personal art, the poems, the pie in the sky b.s. presented. I have never hooked up but I have sent a package ONCE after writing this particular prisoner for years. There are several that I would have liked to have pursued a friendship, maybe more with, but having been a prisoner myself I understand that the streets will usually swallow them whole as soon as they hit the pavement as happened with myself several times. No one should squash human beings connecting with others in the clarity of their minds and HOPE. Even if they are scamming one another let them be. Some if not almost all are just trying to cope with the situations they are in. Considering that America is a prison industry nation we might consider the fact that these prisoners will be reintroduced into the population OUTSIDE of prisons and jails. Many of us are dealing with things like not knowing how to conform. Alienated. So many of us don't know what else to do but be opportunists. If penpaling is offensive to someone I hope that they make the decision to not participate. No one, NO ONE, is twisting anyone's arm. Kinda like porn if you don't approve don't buy it, don't make it, don't look it up, do not participate. But don't make it your place to tell me/us that we shouldn't. The investment of time and energy is yours to use and mine also. We are adults. Believe it or not we have brains and free will. Thank you for this forum. I wish this person could have used their time and effort to the reduction of recidivism. Help create reform of these same prisoners to actually do something differently productive. To positive re-introduction. Because the truth of the situation is no one simply no one continues gaming if it didn't work. And it seems to me that if commissary is necessary some of these games will continue. Try to remember these games are quite a lot more than just a business even for the guards and support staff. If your prisoner is busy THE STAFF doesn't have to deal with that person much more than their job outline right? Don't hate, recognize how jaded you have become. Think about trying to live for very long periods of time on almost nothing. Have you ever considered the thought that many of these folks have no one and even some of them are doing what they can to NOT be a burden on their support systems AKA their famililies. Considering that these so called scams are not only legal but well within the rules of the systems amongst consenting adults I personally don't see a SCAM at all. BTW if either pen pal has regrets quit writing cause if you don't send, you don't receive. That's all I got this night. GOD holds you and yours, me and mine in HIS hand every moment. GOD BLESS YOU ALL in all your endevours.

creiger 4 years ago from Kentucky

What is so wrong with someone asking for money or anything for that matter? People ask each other for things all of the time. Seems to me that prisoners are being stereo typed just because they are prisoners. How many times have we all told a sob story to someone whether it true or not; just for sympathy, attention or to get what we want or need? It all comes down to this: FAITH! When we as human beings stop putting our faith into other human beings, then we have lost all hope of ever being able to trust anyone, and this includes our selves. The old saying goes: "One bad apple spoils a whole bunch". This is simply not true! The saying should be stated:"Everyone pays the price because of a few bad apples". It is up to us all to use our own judgement's! If you are asked to send money or items by an inmate; you simply have the power to just say: NO! No one is forcing your hand to do anything! As human beings we all use somebody. Whether it is a husband using his wife, a wife using her husband, children using their parents and so on. The only difference is: prisoner's are behind bars, so we do not really know if we are the only one's in their lives like they have you believe. In the same aspect out here in the free world, husbands cheat on wives,and vice versa. Family members lie to one another, and some have even lived secret lives without anyone ever catching on until years later. None of us are safe from lies and scams from anyone be it behind bars or out here on the street. It is a chance that we all at one time in our lives take. So use your own judgement's and inner feelings. If you take it upon your self to send money or anything that an inmate or any other person ask's you to send, then you yourself have no one to blame if you end up getting scammed, but yourself! If we take away the rights of prisoner's to write to people outside of the prison wall's because of a few that have scammed trusting people; then we might as well take away everyone's right to send letter's. After all there are hundred's upon thousand's of mail scam's not to mention e-mail scam's; so we might as well eliminate e-mail while we're at it!! So it is everyone's right to correspondence no matter the circumstances that the person is in!! Just be cautious and use your own instinct's! After all these inmate's are not holding gun's to our heads forcing us to do thing's that we are not willing to do!

Denise Moore 4 years ago

Terry, I was asked to come here and share my experience writing inmates. To say that we are here to “squash the truth” is childish. We have come here to tell others about our experiences writing inmates. Why would you be so nasty about that if you’re such a fan of the truth? I have had nothing but positive experiences. That IS the truth.


Wayne Z of IL, your post sounds fake as can be. If you think this of inmates “Let them suffer, the more they suffer the less likely they will want to go back to prison.” how could we ever believe that you ever wrote one of them in the first place?

mike 4 years ago

I wrote for months and never got a response. I'm done.

Jonathon 4 years ago

I have never been scammed, I have written to about 50 prisoners, 2 or 3 gave halfhearted attempts, one tried by writing 3 letters hitting on me and asking for money, I just writing no. If you want to make the suggestion that you shouldn't write to prisoners because they will scam you, you could make a similar argument not to write to gays or muslims because they will scam you (I am not suggesting this but those were the people who tried.) If you are easily duped then yes you should stay away from unsavory characters but then they will be tricked anytime they open an email crying for help.

Connie R. 4 years ago

I would just like to say: Yes there are those out there whether they are inmates or not that will try to scam anyone just to get what they want. I lost my husband last January. he had (before I knew him) been in prison 10 years. We were only married for a little over 2 years before he passed away. I seen the struggles that he went through from having been a 2 time convicted felon. Society would not give him a break when it came to him finding gainful employment; even though he had served his time and paid his debt to society. By the way he was not in prison for conning anyone! It is so easy to take one or a few bad seeds and then say that all inmates are con artists, but this is not true! As of now I have been corresponding with a male inmate for almost a year. We have fallen in love and plan to marry just as soon as he gets out, and hopefully this will be soon. He has never once asked me for money. I took it upon myself to send him a few dollars here and there when I am able. I volunteered this!! He did not ever ask me for one red cent!! This is the land of the free, and we make our own choices! In other words I am a grown woman. I make my own decisions! This man has never once forced me to do anything that I have not wanted to do! If a person finds themselves writing to someone that asks for money and they feel like they are just being used, then refuse to send them money, or just stop writing!!! it's just this simple. If you get burned once then learn your lesson and move on; then do not repeat the same mistake! However this all is about freedom of speech when you get right down to it! We all have the right to correspond with anyone we please. This also goes for inmates! After all we all; whether free or incarcerated have the right to freedom of speech and this includes being able to write whom we please! I am in no way saying that Terry has no idea what he is talking about, but I do know that prisoners and CO's do not like each other. So most law enforcement, guards and so forth do not usually have much good to say about inmates in general! It is so amazing that most of us do not realize that at one time or another most free people walking around on the streets have committed a felony at one time or another. Here is an example: (There a lot of us out here that have had a relative or friend with prescription pain medication offer one or more to you when you are in pain and you readily accept it). Well people-if your name is not on the bottle- and after all prescription pain meds are a controlled substance this is considered a felony!! Depending on what state you live in you can be charged with this; even if it is an innocent gesture. So not all criminals are behind bars! My suggestion is this: No one should be kept from their rights; prisoners or not! Yes screen the mail for codes and such, but do not suggest that all prisoners are con artists! I receive con-mail from Nigerian banks almost twice a month, and to this day I have never once been dumb enough to believe that I have one million dollars left to me (from a relative that I know damned well I do not have) in some Nigerian bank!!! In other words use your own judgment! If you feel you are being taken advantage of then stop the communication! Listen to your inner voice.

David 4 years ago

Terry is obviously using alter egos on here. The three posts above all sound the same and he uses hug a thug again. Lol Never heard that one before.

scott 4 years ago

I'm not a fan of Hug-a-Thug...inmates are simply maggots that have lived a life of crime. They never learn and writing to them isn't going to keep them from going back. The recidivism rate is so high because they're dirtbags that don't listen and don't care. It's a joke to listen to the punks talk about how they have to be strong and be a man when they're in prison. The fact is that you need to be strong to get up and make something out of your life, be a good example for your children, provide for them, help improve your community, and have the integrity to leave other people and their stuff ALONE! Weak little maggots that arent capable of being a productive citizen are the scum we lock up in cages, only after they have had several chances to "be strong"...Writing to putrid punks that have caused horrible pain to families is a ridiculous hobby and being scammed should come as no shock. It's like fishing in a filthy fecal filled sewer and expecting to catch a nice trout. The double digit IQ sporting dimwits in prison were not born there. They proved over and over that the only option left is to lock them in a cage. The useless cowards in prisons all talk as if they represent their races and are examples of real men. They are nothing but embarrassments to each race and their only claim to manhood is that they can beat someone up...pathetic. If I had my way, the idiot mothers that spew this junk on our streets would be locked up with them. For all the lonely bleeding hearts that write to these morons, drop the pen and go help some disadvantaged kids and make them feel hell with prison scum. When they get out they will get another chance to prove what kind of men they are....and most likely be back in jail.

Thrifty Convict Pen Pal 4 years ago

OK, I admit that there are bad people in prisons...just as they are out in the real world. I honestly don't care about what people think based on a few bad experiences. I made up my own mind when I wrote to my pen pal. It's been 3 years and all she's ever asked me for was letters, a few pictures, and some jpegs to help her make cards and draw. I'm glad I took a chance on her, and if she had money...she would have been out a long time ago!

Terry B. Davis profile image

Terry B. Davis 4 years ago Author

Wayne Z, thank you for your comment. As you may have noticed prison penpal companies are attempting to squash the truth through volumes of e-mail, but the truth is out there.

Again thank you for your comments.

Wayne Z of IL 4 years ago

Yes, I know of being asked for money for prison pen pals. I have had several from California prison system ask me for money (one had the nerve to send me a list of items to purchase). Needless to say i was out of the country and could not send money (she wanted shows and blankets and a boom box) nor would I have sent money. It is people like some on this website who would send everything they had to help prisioners out. Have a brain with your heart and realize that prison means no luxury or at least worse conditions than you have already. If you don't have a 35 inch LED HDTV then why should you prison girlfriend have one. Let them suffer, the more they suffer the less likely they will want to go back to prison. After all, if you could get free stuff from people, wouldn't you want to go to prison? Just thinking (you know using my brain which is located 3 feet above my butt).

Beth H. 4 years ago

I have also been writing prison pen pals for a long time and I have never once been asked for money. I think the article is very sad and so are you.

Emma Lee 4 years ago

I have been writing a number of pen pals for 3 years and have made positive life-long companions. This article is a singular extreme magnified unnecessarily. All of my new loved ones have shown more heart, humility and support of me and my own endeavors than many I've known for much longer. You run the same risks being mistreated or taken advantage of by non-incarcerated people. It's up to you to make your intentions clear and be wise in your assessment of the intentions of others. I have never been scammed or exploited for my kindness. We have been mutual life-savers and I've been more than happy in writing these letters.

Izzy Gonzalez 4 years ago

I've been speaking to my 3 friends in prison for over 7 years and never has any of them ever tried to scam me. They don't ask me for money or any information that would raise a red flag with me. I have recently bought one of them a book and sent it to him for Christmas. It is ridiculous to think that just because some people have experienced bad things happen to them that all inmates are the same. They're not, by far the one's I speak with have families. They make me happy when I hear from them and we talk about how they're doing emotionally being away from their children. They deeply apologize for what they've done and they know they're in the prison system for making a huge mistake. I don't blame them really, with economy the way it is and how difficult it is to obtain a job with a record I'm amazed I sit here before you writing you my story with my friends in prison. I look forward to seeing my friends free in the next 10 years, til them I will continue to write them and our relationships will continue to grow. Don't judge them all because one f***** you over. That's my piece. Thank you.

Manuel Castro 4 years ago

Human contact of any kind keeps people being more humanitaian in dealing with the world regardless if is viewed from a cell or in mainstream society.

Katrina 4 years ago

The article is not related to reality. I´ve had prisonpenpals in the US for almost a decade and I have never ever been scammed or tricked or fooled or led astray. My penpals have been anything from regular scamartists to killers and they´ve all shown humility and decency. I´m not special, alright? I´m just an ordinary person who likes to receive snailmail and talk about life in general. I have never been asked for money but I have been proposed to a few times.

Christianne Bynon 4 years ago

Well Terry B. Davis,

What I have to say is I can understand the thought of one who is incarcirated wanting to have more then one relationship, and I can understand that wanting of to have relations on one, who might be a friend and one who would be another frined, and then there could be one who seems to them that they might feel some, romantic feelings of love.

I think that when you are one who is has been tagged or committed in this life to be incarcirated and judged by others as a criminal, but who is that really to be judged? I mean I cannot say that, the crime really did happen because, well to be frank, I was not there, and I did not see what actually happened. I do not judge others just because I want that sense of relief of that burden that has been placed to rest just for the sake of my feelings. And well, honestly I do believe that most people who are placed there do have a right to contact the people as many as he wants. Now if the people that they do contact, that person did not force them to have that pen or pencil in their hand. They did not have the person sit there and tell the other that they have to be their friend, or more than that, that choice is your's and your's alone. Weather they choose to or not, that is not the fault of the inmate. It should be the falt of the one who is out on the outside of the prison walls. And if there should be any, any chance of there to be any suspision, then that should be up to the Department of the Police investigators or the family who is on the outside. I do not think that it should be fair for the the ones who have been givin this life, maybe it is the wrong choices that have been made, though I do think that it is the person who made the choices which may have been bad ones, to at least look at the way that they should understand that what the sircom stances they did do when they had a life that was one worth some kind of value, they had rights and if they continue to do these types of things over and over again that it will lead up to choices in which they will not have to be given a second chance at the happy carefree life that they once knew.

For the inmates especially the others who were still living with there parents, thinking that it doesn't matter they can always come home, and my mother will still be there, and stand up for the crimes committed and say that I am innocent.

I say that when these inmates write, they should not have a suspended amount or restricted amount of people romanticly or not, if you are worried in the letters and the info, maybe you should look at the people whom to which they are writing to and tampering the mail, to see whome the person is, what kind of pen-menship in which if it looks the same or if the letters are consistent and the letters are the same things written over and over again if it is the same address that is on the envelope or not, if the person is receiving the same mail yet the letters have been consistand to the same address in which sent or not, that kind of thing. If you do disrupt the person's mail and restrict them of their rights all they will do is rebel and want to send more and more. Take this amount of information gradually to the prisoner and let them know that you mean business.

Thank you for lettig me help you out. I know it may sound strange, but I believe that everyone incarcirated or not, God gave you this life, an God should be the one to take it. God forgives every one, and God thinks everyone in the image of man he believes that everyone is beautiful. He put you in this world, he should be the one to decide when this life is over. Not man.

Don/Pensacola 4 years ago

I wroth several women during the years and at one point or another they ask for money.

IK had sent one $20 for Christmas,and after that she always asked for more money .So i just stopped writing.Never did let anyone scam me.

Marilyn 4 years ago

I have little to no sympathy for people who choose to write inmates and end up being scammed. An intelligent person who chooses to befriend inmates is following Christian teachings but, to protect yourself, you MUST begin with a mindset that says there is a good chance this person will use you for their own needs. Get over it; they are not all scammers!!! You have to be wary. What if YOU were on the other side of those bars?? What if it was your son?? This is no game for an emotionally needy person but, too often, these are the people who write to inmates.

I began writing to death row inmates 14 years ago and have a number of penpals at the moment. I have dropped several along the way who clearly had an agenda other than friendship. The others are friends and give me as much as I give them. We have never met. We have never spoken on the phone. We exchange letters with meaningful content without compromising privacy. Most ask for nothing. When someone appears more interested in GETTING something than giving, it's a huge red flag. STamps. envelopes, writing paper and even soaps and shoes are essentials that many inmates cannot purchase without assistance of some sort. Birthday cards, Christmas remembrances are small things we can do to make BIG differences to someone behind bars.

In all these years, I have never gotten into someone's guilt/innocence. That's the courts' job. There is lots of attention to victims' families. But perpetrators are human beings too. Anyone who believes God loves us, has to believe he loves us ALL. Forgiveness (not forgetting but respecting someone who is paying their dues for their past deeds) is central to Christianity.

If you choose to write to a man in prison, you need to be intelligent and respectful about it. If you can't deal with being burned, stay away from fire!!! If you can do all this, then what would Jesus think?? Jesus befriended prisoners too!! God loves us all!!! How can you teach an inmate that God loves and forgives him if you can't provide him with the experience of genuine love and forgiveness??

Love is an action word. Doing something nice for someone whose every day is hell is a loving action. I believe it is what a good Christian should be able to do without expecting anything in return but respect. The most important commandment: do unto others as you would have done unto you!!!

Lynn Weatherford 4 years ago

Inmates are people also, and apx.70% are there for drug and alcohol related offenses. They need treatment and contact w/ the outside in order to not become INSTITUTIONALIZED.....otherwise they get out and are so out of touch w/ society they are more apt to relapse..and/or commit a crime. Yes there are some(and not near as many as you portray)that play games,but, are we as supposed compassionate human beings going to punish the many,because of the few!!!

Jennifer Boyadjian 4 years ago

Hello I believe it is a persons choice to write a penpal. I met my husband as a penpal through a wonderful site almost 13 years ago. We became good friends he never asked me for anything ever then almost 3 yrs ago we met for first time and I felt an instant connection to this man a month later he proposed and we married Oct 2009. to this day he still has not asked me for anything I out of my own free will and choice send a little money here and ther he does work in there and has for many years and even though it is not much he makes do with it the money I spend on him is when I visit and spend approx $30 at visit and that is 1 to 2 x's a months. I know there are scammers out there but the person writing needs to learn the signs because if you think about it people are being scammed everyday for money and thats from people not even in prison.

Supporting the Pelican Bay Hunger Strikers 4 years ago

LOL.. you said Dannette, has a problem with men in general.

As a man who cannot spell, could not pass a 5th grade grammar test or have a clue as to what it means to identify an individual from an entire society, tells me you have a problem with people in general!

Your argument is as weak as your grasp on English grammar.

I have a peeve, and that is someone writing "women" for the singular, it is "womAn".

I am also laughing because your lack of education best defines every prison guard I ever met. ( how's that apple in your orange crate?)Have neglected to realize you have spent most of your adult life in prison BY CHOICE? Just because you have keys, mace, and a baton, it doesn't make you immune to the environment you CHOOSE to go to every day. I would think a guard who read thousands of letters every week would not stoop so low as to imply that a few bad apples are as common as that. I know if you are reading all those letters, the intimacy you are prying into has got to be a little uncomfortable to say the least. does that make you a pervert? In some people's eyes, it most certainly does.

nicole rosbender 4 years ago

hi, my name is Nicole i´m a 29 year old single mother from the netherlands. i´ve recently started writing with an inmate. and i must say that i´m really shocked by obove. the youngman i´m writing with is not showing off by telling me what he did. he is very open about the stupid things he did. instead of living in the past he is focussing on the future. he is also very interested in my well being and always asking how i´m doing en about my son. i started writing with an inmate because i thought i could help but instead i found someone who listens to me. and i made a new friend. i think its great that he already started to invest in his future outside the prison by learning new things and trying really hard to stay out of trouble.

i´m sure there are some people who´ve had some bad expierences, but people are people and there wille be always people, in prison and out off prison who have bad intensions!!!!!!

people make mistakes, that is what makes us human. and those who are willing to start a new life, should be intitled and get our support. and for all those people who don´t agree..... no one forcing you to write with an inmate......

just wanted to let you all know... that there are people who actually have had some positive expierences with a penpal who´s in prison

B. Firby 4 years ago

Maybe some of the convicts scam people but why should all of them be painted with the same brush? I have sent money to the penpal I had but only enough to be able to afford the necessities to keep writing me. And I only did that because I was told I'm not allowed to send stamps to him. I think it is a shame to get rid of the penpal program. Perhaps if the person in question is scamming people and they caught him/her then only they should lose their privileges and not the whole lot of them!

Renee 4 years ago

This is ridiculous these prisoners need support. And for states to mandate common sense is again ridiculous.

People take risks for all things the good outweighs the bad in the case of penpals. I have 11 I support, most prisoners just need a friend not fall in love move in thats up to the writer if they are adults then its their choice. where isolation is rampant and no rehab or correction being given of course it is the prison system churning out damaged people put the onus on the DOC and BOP to correct not torture. Stop writing the crap and leave good deeds alone.

C.B. 4 years ago

Most prisoners I've ever came across say that having a penpal 'saved their lives' and that they are only on websites searching for friendships and something to keep them sane. I receive about five letters daily from different inmates in the US: No scams, just pure friendship. Writing prisoners is one of the best things I've ever done!

alicia simpson 4 years ago

I have been on writeaprisioner.cim for around 4 or so years bow n i have 8 different people i write and not one of them has asked ne for money or said anythingbad to me. They are all nice and very respectible to me. I think it would be wrong to shut down this site. They are humans too. How would u feel if u was treatrd that way? And u know some of them are in there because they had worthless parents who didn't teach them how to act properly. And anyonr who joins this site can go on there and see why they are un there and decude if they want to write them. With email its safrer because they don't get ur address. So tell me why is it such a big deal? Let them have stuff to do if they behave. Im just sayiing thats a good site and dosnt need to be shut down. Aelicia simpson

Vivi 4 years ago

I have several prison pen pals since three years back and I have nothing negative to say whatsoever $6. It has been and still is a great experience. No scams

d stelte 4 years ago

I find it amasing that so many people feel that just because someone has done something wrong and have been properly convicted (unlike the WM3)that people feel that these individuals are scam artists.Thank God these people have contact with the outside world in order to hold onto what little sanity they have. It's too bad if someone states they wish for or would like something that they are accused of scams. It is really shameful. are we speaking of Repulicans?

AIR FORCE PRIDE 4 years ago

I'll comment. I am Law Enfor. But i also have had to deal with my brother in Jail due to he killed someone who broke into his home and he defended his property and home and the people who broke in killed his wife. He served 15 years in the Military . He has never tried to hurt anyone in Being a penpal . I hope the people he still contacts and talks to will still be a friend to him. I will stand up for Inmates to continue to have pen Pals because if we lock people away throw away the key and they never get to talk to anyone how is that human ? It's not . We take down people who lock up their animals because they never see the world or socialize. So in a way jail and penpals gives them a chance to also show they are just more then someone who didn't care but it shows them they can still be someone and build upon themselves to be better.

Yes there should be safe guards to make sure some of the inmates who do use hurt or intimidate or scam people do not have that kind of access. But a person does have a right to have an opportunity to make themselves better and if it means through contact from Upstanding Not in trouble citizens who believe people can be reformed then so be it .

Lesly Trebian 4 years ago

As being one of those women let me point out everyone has a story inside of walls as well as outside ..But not all men in prison are horrible people just were young and dumb and made some bad choices in life .Just as I am sure a lot of people have done that have never seen an ounce of time locked up !Some actually learn by there experience and come out productive members of society .

Lea 4 years ago

I don't care about scams as much as giving them such previleges while my daughter and her boyfriend are in heaven instead of with their families!! I googled one of the five guys that brutally murdered them and to my surprise, there was this kid posing for his picture and asking young girls to write him and send him money!!!! Absurd

Leontien Bleeker 4 years ago

At first I believed you, about a year-and-a-half ago. Then I began to doubt you, because of my positive experiences with the inmates I write. None of them have ever abused me. They seem to be happy to have a penpal and four out of the five have asked me to keep in touch with family members on the outside.

My biggest question is: HOW do you know so many inmates scam? You would have had to follow loads of those released in order to be able to conclude that they all run away with their wives' money and credit cards! And I don't think released inmates would want you to follow their walk of life.

Betty Bianca 4 years ago

Dear Terry Davis,

that scam you described sounds like any man that would go to a pick-up bar! in other words, that man would be scamming women, behind bars or not! This sort of pathological behavior happens on the street far more than I find acceptable, and IS THE SINGLE reason I prefer to keep my male/female relationships extremely cautious. I would never let someone get close to me knowing they haven't fully opened up to me in a way that would betray any deceptions.

I have been writing prisoners for over 15 years. The first one was a guy I knew on the streets before he went in. I knew he wasn't a peach, but he was a friend of sorts. He is also a repeat offender, so I knew his character wasn't on the up and up.

the Current guy I write, I have been writing for over 3 years exclusively. He has been in there since for a very long time, on trumped up charges and a first offense. He had given up on people as a result of people giving up on him.

what did he do before we met? he studied... he took college classes, until they took that away from him, too.

he is doing a sentence on a crime that was never proven. How do I know "FOR SURE"? I have his trial transcripts. I have read them in full, He got shafted and I am not gonna stop until I find him a way out. I have never met anyone who was as open, sincere and trustworthy. YES trustworthy!! HE TRUSTS ME WITH HIS LIFE!!! My own mother never even showed me the love and respect this man does.

So how is it that someone who never got a fair shake should be denied any hope of a human experience, while scumbags roam free terrorizing honest, good people?

Not everyone in prison is a scumbag, not every prisoner is scott peterson (hell, look at drew peterson, a cop!)or jefferey dahmer. Not every prisoner is even guilty ( thank you "justice" now take off that blindfold and show an ounceof integrity!!) and not every person through the justice system is shown a fair shake, as we know, only money can buy your 6th amendment right.

but I digress.

if you take penpalling from prisoners, you are instilling recidivism, and keeping the "human meatgrinder" well fed. Shame on anyone who thinks destroying lives is a "good ieea"

will i wont i 4 years ago

i noticed that the person that started this debate has long since stopped adding his dialouge, is this maybe because his mind has been changed since its original thread??????.... and the normal person ,living a normal life, is not as stupid as he percieves

ILL WILL 4 years ago


Katharina 4 years ago

Dear Mr Davis,

I think you ment the best, when writing this article (though I noticed a certain amount of sarcasm when writing about the violent environment and loneliness - are you suggesting this is untrue?), but I find the way you go about it a bit destructive. It is, as if you once had a friend who happened to got married to a marriage impostor and now you start warning every female in the world never to get married at all. Of course there are people in prison, who won't hesitate to exploit those who reach out to them. There are people of that kind all over the world - and most of them aren't behind bars.

I personally had never any trouble with my penpals. None of them ever asked me for as much as a favor, let alone for money! I regard them as my friends and feel kind of insulted by your onesided article. It is only fair enough to warn people of what could happen, but you should also point out the benefits of penpalships. The system of US-prisons is inhuman enough as it is. You shouldn't try to undermine one of the few positive aspects still around.

Yvonne 4 years ago

Scams you speak of are happening on the internet, dating sites, facebook etc the list is long, as well as in the real world in person everyday. For factual stats lets list those and compare to those who communicate by letters to inmates.

Actually when we think of how many incarcerated, any attempt at a scam is much easier to handle immediately(also less likely then the outside world) if coming from a prison. The odds of being scammed are lower then the outside world actually, we know what the crimes are as well as their real address.

I wrote inmates and never myself had one attempt to scam me, wish" I could say the same for the seams to be so nice joe blows outside the walls. As as well as in the news daily (society) how many get taken advantage of even by their own family members.

Scams are in my mail,on my phone, in politics, schools even in the churchs where on least suppects them.

End of the day we are all responsible for ourselves, and take the right actions to proper authority if any problems.

Believe it or not communication" with an inmate by letters is probably one of the safest.

How about a list of warning signs posted to cover scamming in general no matter where or who we come in contact with.

No one can control emotions nor financial, inside walls or not,each indivdual is responsible for their choices/actions or who we allow and trust into our lives.

jan Schneider 4 years ago

I have. been writing prisons for the better part of ten years an I think that it is a positive program its people like you that needs to be locked up. people change

Eve 4 years ago

I have been corresponding with inmates for several years now and I have never ever had a bad experience with them. Only one asked for money once and when I refused it was the end of our correspondence. The others (3 inmates) never asked for anything. They write nice and open letters and don't make promises, nor manipulate. They seem down to earth and realistic. They do have hopes and dreams for their future in the free world, but don't we all?

I am sure that there are inmates who do play games but if you keep your eyes open (like you should in the free world) then there is not much to worry about. So far they have given me more joy than my 'free' penpals.

Jan schneider 4 years ago

I think that this is a bunch of bull. these inmates are lonely And can change just like normal people I think the write an inmate program is excellent

ThTruth 4 years ago

Wow - If you could persuade everyone that having a prisoner penpal will mean they're going to get scammed then you could really cut down on staff time looking through all those letters. Clever.

Mariepop 4 years ago

I wrote to an inmate for 2 years. He became my best friend and he never asked me for anything and I never sent anything apart from 2 books. He got out of prison in May last year after a seven year sentence, he called me the day he got out, and to this day we speak to each other 4/5 times a week by text, email, skype, xbox live, and facebook. I even went to stay with him for a week in November as I live in England.

So there are some good guys in there, and people shouldnt stereotype. One thing I will say though, that my penpal has said to me, is most of them arent angels... He told me he reckons 70% of people in there are bad. And alot of them do scam women by using them as pen pals. Not that anyone has asked for it, but my advice would be to watch warning bells. Im sorry but inmates that send you poems and pictures and all that crap that Terry has written in his blog, I think thats when you know they are scamming you. I mean what guys out here would write you a poem?? Just be cautious and never trust 100%, I only started trusting my friend when he go out.

Lisa 4 years ago

I think you "advising" people of various scams is fine, BUT do not paint all inmates with the same brush. I have a penpal and he is now my best friend. He doesn't ask for anything, doesn't say anything inappropriate and I have gotten just as much out of our friendship as he has. If me taking some time out of my week to write a letter and send some encouragement to someone who made mistakes and is now paying the price, will help keep his chin up then I'll do it! We all screw up, they're not all bad people. I agree with penpal will not accept anything from me. He never asks...he is appreciative and more of a gentleman than a lot of men in the "free world"!

Luna 4 years ago

I can only agree with Shayna!I have good experiences with writing to an inmate...and I live in Sweden!

There can definitely come good things out of this!!

Shayna Gibson 4 years ago

I would just like to share that writing inmates is NOT a bad thing. I have met some of the best people through writing to my prison pen pals. i have people who can help me through my hard times and show me the way to go. One inmate specifically has become one of my closest friends, and if i didn't have him, i would never have been able to get through the hard situations in my life. so for everyone who thinks they're just scammers, they're wrong. my inmate has never asked me for ANYTHING. if i even offer, he declines.

Brittney Nicole 4 years ago

I have actually had a positive experience with the website I started writing about 6 months ago. I now write to two inmates neither of whom have ever asked me for anything. They never talk to me in any sort of provocative manner and sincerely thank me for taking the time to be their friend. A lot of there inmates have been locked up since they were teens and still have that young adult mentality. Did none of us never do any wrongs when were teens? How many times were you thankful for a near miss that you were lucky enough to not get caught up for. For myself this is many!!! I guess I have more empathy due to the fact that I know and appreciate how blessed I am to have never gotten caught but think, what if? I know that if I were in their particular situation I would do anything to have a friend. Everyone needs love, and everyone deserves to have a friend. God has already forgiven them, why haven't you? 4 years ago

I have hadgood and bad experiences with pen pal inmates....I currentlu started writing a inmate on write a is trying to get me to send him 2thousand dollars...really???? What is a inmate gonna do with that money??? Drugs it is....I refuse to write anymore....just preceed with caution

chadswife07 4 years ago

I have to say that this is not true for all convicts. Sure some will try and get you to send them money but since we are all grown you can say no. I began writing prison inmates as a hobby due to being in a relationship with someone who spoke a different language and it being so hard to communicate with, this gave me someone to talk to plus by writing I had use of my free time since I didn't go out partying or things like that. I had like 10 different penpals at one time and enjoyed writing back and forth and out of the 10 I think only 1 had asked me to send money or go online and order commissary for them. I just explained I couldn't and that was that. The people in prison are human and can except NO for an answer, they made wrong choices in their lives and are paying for those choices but they can still except yes or no as an answer. My story has a very happy ending. I was writing someone and they had a celly that didn't do the pen pal thing he gave his celly my info so that he would have someone to talk to through letters. He wrote and then I wrote back and 5 yrs later we are still writing. We plan to be married sometime just not sure of when. But writing and getting to know eachother we fell in Love with eachother and through our letters we are inseperable. But writing does change an inmates outlook on life from negetive to positive. I know in my case it did. My fiance had taken college courses, worked jobs, and did alot of useful things with his time behind bars since we had begun writing. Oh and he has never once asked me to send him money or commissary or anything at all.

sporteguy03 4 years ago

I am not sure where the statistic comes from, I write female inmates have visited and called a few even none were overbearing and some are released and none have threatened me or anything.

Terry B. Davis profile image

Terry B. Davis 4 years ago Author

To All, I have read all your comments and thank you for your interest.

Again I appriciate your comments, as my basis for this blog was to warn people of potential scams, to educate them on what to look for. A majority of you have given good advise, set boundries etc.. thanks again.


sean oxenbould 4 years ago

I write to inmates and have never been asked for money ,i have sent them some money of my own back to help them out with a few personnel items.I am going to vist one of my pen pals this year .I do belive people make bad decions in life and there regreat it very much and are truly sorry people deserve a 2nd chance in life

John 4 years ago

I write to inmates, being an ex-offender I know how important to have a connection to the outside world. I saw first hand how many inmates have no connections to the outside world and those same people end up causing most of the problems on the prison compound. Of course with any contact with any one, you have to apply the same ole adage, let the buyer beware. You treat people how you want to be treated, by not allowing the opportunity to form relationships through the penpal letter writing, what kind of person are you really developing?

social worker 4 years ago

I have been corresponding with inmates for four years (as a private person) and today's date I'm in regular contact with over 40 inmates all over the US. During these years I've been in touch with over 100 inmates in the US. I'm also in touch with inmates in the UK, Uganda, Sweden and Russia.

I've also made a long term internship (six months) at a level 4 prison working in both mail room and on the floor as a regular guard. I've also worked for Red Cross and, through that organization, I made jail visits, as well as prison condition controle visits in different prisons in different parts of the world. I've also worked with victim support programs. My current interest is for young offenders.

NOT ONE inmate has ever scamed me, asked me for money, stamps or any help. I myself have after longer contact with certain inmates offered my help and support. My help has often times been turned down and only books once in a while has been accepted. I have myself sent money to dear friends, no one NEVER asked me!

My US contacts are men and women, the youngest is 16 years and the oldest 59 years old, they are death row inmates and general population inmates, federal and state inmates, first timers and notorious criminals, drug dealers and killers, incarcerated in level 4 to level 1 and they are all over the US. The times a contact hasn't worked out is because of different personality and chemistry between us, just like in the street, you don't like and get along with everyone you meet, do you?

I'm in touch with a lot of people (approx 250 people all over the world) corresponding with US inmates and NO ONE has ever experienced a scam or being betrayed by their contacts in prison.

To me it is clear that the contact with the outside world is of fundamental value for the the rehabilitation and reintegration to society after incarceration. Living in the harsh and unpredictable conditions in US prisons makes a contact in the outside world even more important. It is proved by scientific research that contact with the outside world is one of the major factors for a crime free life after parole.

We all need friends and love in our life, why should inmates be deprived of that right?

MICHAEL 4 years ago







lucie 4 years ago

I know these things happen from time to time, we all know that it can happen and it probably does on a daily basis, but everyone deserves a second chance in life.

Tracey 4 years ago

I have been writing to an inmate I found on Write a Prisoner for the past 2 years. We became good friends and he helped me to get out of a terribe marriage that I was in for 23 years. He gave me the courage to leave and told me I could do anything I want to and he was right. Money has been tight for me and in the last couple of months and he has arragned for money to be sent to me and that is not an easy feat as I live on the other side of the world! He has not asked for money or stamps, I have on occassions given him money for Birthdays and Christmas but that was what I wanted to do, like you do for other friends and family memebers. I now write to his good friend who is also an inmate in another institution, he has very limited family who write and if I can make someone smile by them getting a letter I have written then it makes me feel good that I can help another human being by putting pen to paper. The majority of inmates want to find a friend or soul mate they can connect with and have a honest relationship. I think it is more the minority of inmates who are out to scam to get whatever they can be it money or someones heart in the process. I am very happy to have had the opportunity to find my soul mate through a pen pal sight, which by the way was not my intention, we started with friendship and then it became more and that was my doing not his - I have no regrets! And if anything were to happen where I was taken advantage of then I would be totally responsible as I know what the risk are, my eyes are wide open and not covered by rose coloured glasses.

hazel hinton 4 years ago

well iv been writing to prisoners for a while and iv only got good things to say, iv never been scammed at all, and they have all been so polite, considerette and so nice, they are not all nasty evil beings, most of them iv spoke to are so nice, they are human beings not animals.if you treat them nice then you get nice back if you treat them bad them what do you expect.

gert 4 years ago

A ridiculous story of course; as if inmates are a different type of humans. If you notice in your position that something might be happening that is not all that right you might expect a conversation: Explain!!! In stead of witnessing the whole operation, let it go by and comment after the facts.

The story starts with telling that inmates have nothing to do. So, why not start just there. Use their brains to achieve things. But as a reaction on all this to take even more away from them, narrowminded.

Ames 4 years ago

This article is funny as it is simply naive, speaks about a few cases and neglects to give a balanced argument and appreciate the good things that people have experienced with corresponding with a prisoner. I am aware scams can happen but this is few and far between, if people are careful, clever and aware in their correspondence it is unlikely anything will go wrong.

The Dane 4 years ago

For 1½ year I have been writing and recieving letters with an inmate whom I found at

It sure has been one of the greatest decisions I've ever made! He is a nice and polite guy who always write me nice letters full of respect. We discuss family, politics, religion, nature anything. I consider him as a brother. For me it has been a gift to get to know a total stranger from another part of the world and from a very different background. I was surprised to learn that I have so many things in common with him and that he is so open minded. He expresses his gratitude about having me as a pen pal and he tells, that his life has changed to the better since we have started to write together. What a gift for me! I feel so humble and thankful to be able to do a postive change for somebody whom I've never met.

I asked him if he would like to recieve some books and he just gives me suggestions. He always asks if it's okay to wish a new book. For me its a pleassure to know that I can do something that will give him a little amusement from daily life in prison. If inmates scams their pen pals, I guess it is an expression of the miserable life they live in prison. I don't believe that you can fight crime by putting people into jail. Prisons only creates more criminals. But since we are not going to abolish prisons I believe that everybody deserves a second change. Deserves somebody to trust in them, to listen to them. I do not believe that crime should be rewarded off course! But I believe that a better world begins by giving love love to whom who need it most and the prisons are full of such people!!!

R.Dean 4 years ago

i am willing any where ,inside jail or out the benefit of dought,if you feel scammed stop if want stamps send them. they can't all be scammers (perhaps),but want to I know. wrote to a few yet to hear back. i am older little couscous what makes me chuckle is when they say thee honest,for most part if there honest would not be in jail,but in our justice system you get what you can afford.

Danielle Lumpkin 4 years ago

Personally I have never been scammed by an inmate although I am sure it does occur. Not everyone is the same so I feel that it is unfair to judge all inmates as one. When a person writes an inmate in prison, they are making a conscious decision to do so. When you put yourself in a position to be scammed that is what will happen. I am a former supervisor at a prison and I have seen many good relationships that blossomed from a simple pen pal relationship. I personally have many friends and family who are incarcerated so I don't write strangers but I have witnessed the good that it does. With everything in life there are advantages and disadvantages. I think they need to take the time to get to know people first.

sharon 4 years ago

well not all inmates are the same,i have 3 penpals in different states and have been writing to these for nearly 3 years not once has any of them asked me for stamps ,money, anything.i find i enjoy hearing from them as my world is totally different to theirs so telling each other about our own lives is as the saying goes you cant judge a book by its cover .

Susie Ryan 4 years ago

I stumbled across Write a Prisoner when I was reading about Troy Davis sentenced to death with reasonable doubt of his guilty verdict. I have been writing to my pen pal for several months, I chose this particular person as he is studying psychology and that was our common thread and I wanted to support and encourage him in his studies. His goal upon release is to connect with troubled youth in his community and support them, counsel them and guide them to participate in a positive way in their communities. He has never asked for money, I have offered to send him needed books for his studies and he rejected my offer, so i send him articles free of charge to me from the internet that i know he will need to successfully complete his course. This is all preparing him for his release to be a positive influence on troubled kids. When prisoners receives a 6 month sentence they are really being sentenced to life, due to the attitudes of society, they have paid for their mistakes when they complete their sentence, but not in the eyes of society. If a woman wants to feel good by sending some money, that is her decision and shouldnt be judged by any one else. As in the free world we make bad decisions in relationships, thats part of growing and learning about life. I must ask Mr Terry Davis if he has that much hate and judgement of prisoners that he cant see the positive influence that writing to a prisoner can have? May i suggest with respect sir, that you research the statistics of prisoners receiving mail and the advantages not only to the prisoner but also to society this has. I am sure you will find that the advantages out weigh the disadvantages that you are trying to portrait.

Bernadine 4 years ago

I'm from South Africa and connected with my pen pal via write-a-prisoner. We have been corresponding for 10 months now and not once has he asked for money / stamps / anything. He is just happy to have someone on the outside or in the "free world" as he calls it, writing to him and not judging him. He has warned me that there is guys in prison who do scam the people they write. I don't think one should put all inmates in "one basket". Even criminals / convicted felons needs a 2nd chance in life - and by writing positive letters to them, you can and will make a change in their lives.

Don't be naive and that counts for ALL relationships - cause you get "bad apples" in the free world as well...

joanne oellermann 4 years ago

i think theres nothing wrong with a prison in mate getting mail, ive never had a problem, please dont stop prison in mate getting mail

Jane 4 years ago


I found your original post offensive and discriminatory. Of course there are prisoners who will scam anyone for anything they can get from them. I also know of prison officers who are in the job simply because they like the power it gives them over others.

Not all prisoners are bad the same as not all PO are bad.

I write to around 20 guys in this country (England) and in the USA. A very few have made inappropriate comments and also asked outright or indirectly for money. I always write and tell them the truth - that I can't afford to send money and I am not interested in having anything other than a friendship with them. They know I have been happily married for 33 years and earn a modest living. In all but 2 cases the "out of order" inmate has written back apologising and we have carried on and developed a good relationship.

Can you blame someone for trying to improve their lot? I think not. And many of these guys have not had loving boundaries set so don't know what it is like to be cared about but not be allowed to overstep the mark. Hopefully I have shown them how this can be. The other 2 - 1 persisted and I returned his letters, the other didn't write again.

I think as in all areas of life you have to use common sense. A sense of humour also helps.

I have been writing to some of these guys for over 3 years now and can honestly say that it has all been positive. It is so good to be able to let off steam in a letter to a trusted penpal and know they will reply and generally be on my side!

I know they get a lot from our correspondence. Many of them have never had a chance to tell their story to anyone. I have been told about some horrific crimes but listen because I know the person who is writing about it needs to tell someone their side of the story. I never condone any such crime, but listening to what has led up to it can be heartbreaking. Who wouldn't feel like killing someone who had raped, tortured and murdered his 10 year old daughter?

To sum up. I think if you enter into a correspondence with a prisoner with an open mind and common sense and set boundaries it can be a life changing and life enhancing experience for all concerned. As one of my guys laughingly said to him after he had received a particurly long letter ranting about the state of the world and my job in particular " I write to him because I know he is a captive audience".

I say to everyone out there. Please don't be put off by one mans personal opinion. Writing to an insider can be a great thing to do for you and them.

Have a good day.

Bella Down Under 4 years ago

I am an Aussie who has been writing to prisoners in the US for several years and I'm going to straight up say that one of them did try to 'sob story' me into sending money. I wrote him an email saying I was disappointed that he tried that one me and I never heard from him again.

HOWEVER.. !.. I have written to a few others for many years and none of them have asked for a single cent. I have phone calls from one of them at his expense.. although because of the price of calling outside the US I did set up a skype account which cost a small amount of money.. this enables him to call me at a heavily reduced rate. We talk at least a couple of times a week. He is not trying to romance me and he certainly doesn't try to engage me in anything sexual.

I'm a healthy, happy, professional, educated woman and I work in the welfare industry (social science) and I BELIEVE in rehabilitation. I'm not ignorant or innocent, I know there are people behind bars who scam.. as pointed out many times, there are also people on this side of the fence doing the same (minus the busy body reading their mail!)

I also have a very good friend that I visit in prison here in Australia and he has ALSO never asked me for anything. I deposit a small amount into his account for his birthday and Christmas and every time we have to go through the conversation of why I shouldn't be doing that as he isn't comfortable with hand-outs.

I get a lot out of writing to my PPP's.. I did have reason to weed out a potential scammer but I think if you are aware of it, then you can protect yourself.

I found the original post to be judgmental, biased, ignorant and downright dangerous. If this is an indication of how the CO's view the inmates.. then God help them all.. for what hope have they got.

Ex-Writeaprisoner pen-pal 4 years ago


Another friend of mine has commented on this article I see, her having gone through exactly the same thing I did.

We both found our pen-pals on, that wonderful site that gives prisoners an doorway to the big wide world and thousands of gullible women.

Yes, gullible women.

I decided to write this comment last night when I received an email from Adam at (the owner of the site) asking us all (members) to write about POSITIVE (and he capitalized that word!) experiences we have had writing to prisoners.

WHAT A JOKE! Because he makes his living with that web site, he does not wish to admit that the majority of inmates who write to people out here are doing it with ulterior motivation in mind and manipulation in their soul.

Gullible I am not, intelligent I am, I am also kind and used to believe in giving people second chances. I am also a student of psychology and to be quite frank, writing a prisoner was a big, big mistake of mine.

I wanted to be a friend and only ever offered friendship to the man I wrote to, yet by letter 5 the pornographic content of his letters shocked even my broad mind. He initially wanted sex letters 'I need this' he said. 'I deserve this' he demanded. Within 2 months he was asking me to marry him.

To cut a long story short, he was a sociopath and a drug addict (a crime he lied about to me initially, one of many, many lies he told me - he was extremely manipulative and it soon became apparent that his sole aim in writing to a pen pal (a female one, he didn't want a male on, they are not as easy to sweet talk with compliments and unless gay, don't respond to written filth I presume) was PURELY TO GET MONEY FROM THEM, get written sex from them and to find a meal ticket for the remainder of his 10 year sentence.

They are very clever with how they do it, someone who isn't familiar with these type of personalities would probably be taken in quite easily.

I still read the forum over at Writeaprisoner and you would all be SHOCKED at how many women on there think they have a relationship with these guys, think they will be with them when they get out. One British woman has has given over 40K to a previous pen pal of hers for legal bills, then she found out he was scamming her.

A few months ago she married another one she found from the site who is in prison in Texas - her wedding was broadcast on the Prison Show radio show from Texas. She's British and so naive, she thinks when he gets out in 14 years I think it is, they will live happily ever after.

I feel sorry for her and so many like her, most of them European women, as these are the women these men target.

Correction Officers see all these games that they play, many books have been written about it by those that work with these men. I see no success stories from, it usually all falls apart when the man is released and the woman's funds are no longer required.

Why are normal, healthy women looking for love with criminals? They are Sociopaths, Murderers, Drug Addicts, Child Killers, Thieves.

Why? I think they need as much help as they can get and I think websites like facilitate these scams and should be removed from the web. But he makes a lot of money from it doesn't he, so he turns a blind eye to what he knows does happen!

Listen to this man's warning and mine and lots on here, we have experienced it and don't believe what these inmates tell you. Anyone can write what they like, its words on paper, pretty cards, sweet compliments.

Find a man in the real world, one that doesn't want to steal your money from you or use you to help him with his sexual frustrations. So many write about how they sent sexy pictures to their pen.pals, like its clever, how good are they etc. I wonder where their pictures end up - probably in the hands of men that would sicken them if they knew who they really were!

Mia Enelid, Swe 4 years ago

Of course scammers can be found both inside and outside prison. I dont see any reason for not being penpal with prisoners because of this risk. I have opened my home for juvenile delinquent since 1993 and have never, ever, had anything stolen or having anyone of them trying to scam my family. As a former police officer i really do think that you must see the individual behind the crime and have the humanity to believe that everybody can change for the better. You have a responisibility in modern society to help those who can not help themselves. By writing letters and being a friend you can make a big change in the lifes of those who has so little left to live for. What kind of world would we have if we lost our love for others? What risk do you take by sharing humanity and love? Considering giving away money, that descition must be made by the person who gets the question. Sometimes sending money can make a difference. People arent born evil. Those of us who still can feel the love must share it. Help a fellow human being who isnt as lucky in the lottery of life as yourself. Thats the love of god and what Jesus Christ preached. Love comes back to you.

Rachel Crowther 4 years ago

I have been writting to a guy for around 6 months now and he hasnt asked once for money or gifts, he has been very polite and has given me no reason to think he wants anything then friendship, i am very pleased with how its going and dont wish to stop writting to him.

Ms Crowther.

the bad one 4 years ago


I am from Belgium and wrighting my pp in Texas why?

I don't have to do this but ILIKE to do this!

Whe are people who need the time to speak (wright ) to other people becorse the pp need to hear (wright) other people.

If i would been locked up i would be verry happy that someone would wright me.

there are always bad people who just would like to get money but there are so many pp who just wants friendship and sommeone who thinks of them!

writer 4 years ago

Hi, I would like to make a comment,

I have been writing to an inmate for almost 2 yrs now. We have maintained a friendship and i have sent him a few books. He indicated he would like to go further in the friendship and I declined. He has mentioned money a few times and I have ignored it. Like the other inmates I see mentioned, I suspect he writes to quite a few other people probably trying the same thing, as he is very good with words and quite charming.

One thing I do think is that it is up to the individual to make the decisions of who they write. It is my problem If I end up scammed. Ultimately people who are taking the chance of communicating with someone in jail are taking a risk higher than if they were lookign for a connection with the average man out on the street and with this information in mind, they should proceed with caution. However, if people end up getting scammed then this is ultimately their fault. It is pretty harsh, but I think it's a reality. I don't think inmates shouldn't be allowed to communicate. that is definitely not the answer and not right to infringe on more of their already highly restricted rights, but I think that whoever decides to write an inmate should have a careful look at what exactly it is they hope to achieve, who they are writing to and why, and educate themselves on scams etc.

I have not stopped writing to my pen-pal, we write on a regular basis, but I refuse to send money and have set boundaries as I think this is necessary for our communication. I think this article is a necessary piece of work from a person who is informed about the subject, and as he said in his article, this is not the case for every individual. It's good to put it out there that this stuff does happen and often.

thanks for the article, it was an interesting read.

Rosie Avalon 4 years ago

Dear Sir

I found your experiences interesting but do not think they correspond in any way to everyone. I live in the EU, and have been corresponding with inmates all over the states, many do not want money or gifts and said they would send it back if I sent any. I am sure there are bad apples everywhere, but but not tarnish everyone with the same brush please.



Emma 4 years ago

I use write a prisoner and have developed a great friendship, no sleaze, no exploitation. It would be a huge shame to put an end to that.

Sweetcami 4 years ago

I just been writing 2 pen pals for about 6 months. 1 is decent and got his own money and never would he ask a woman for money. He told me as well in his unit(low)That 98% that got a profile on writeaprisoner, do scam women brutal. Some have paid so much money for legal stuff and all kind of stuff they manipulate these women bad. He also told me"remember why they are here the first place, many are icecold"

The 2nd penpal was someone i did fall for, as you write a tons of cards and poems and letters(crazy much for just developed a friendship) this man is handsome. Had a photo collection on his profile. That many that my girlfriend said I DID'NT KNOW THAT THEY HAVE MODEL AGENCIES IN PRISON. I slowly got suspecious, yes then he asked for money and i sent him 30 us for stamps. Then he started to write how hungry he is. That is actually when I told him to stop the scam, or I would write his warden and make sure he will never be able to correspond in the future. he stop writing, but was calling non stop for 3 weeks, i didnt pick up. I knew he was scared that I write his unit. Cause all the calls were about this, as he spoke on my answer service. I would say every woman out there that send money, you guys are naive. they dont starve, they get stamps and envelopes. just be upfront tell them you will not continue "support" him/ her cause it all is a scammer. I really thank you for this article, and if the people involved with PP dont think 25 years of experience is worth to trust, it speak for itself what they are.

Eric Roberts 4 years ago

Australia for birth of Eric.... I have a pen-pal (prisoner) in Texas. He has never NEVER never asked for money. The only thing her has asked for is for me to continue to write to him. I told that I started the letter writing through write-a-prisoner web site. I gave him the right to terminate the communication. I have a wonderful time writing to him and receiving his letters. Typical good doers who end up doing bad. Typical politicians regardless of the country.

Caroline 4 years ago

Interesting article,I'm not denying that some inmates might scam people but to say all of them are scammers is ridiculous.For over 10 years I have been writing to inmates and never experienced being scammed by them.

Did they sometimes ask for things?Sure they do,remember many of them do not have any family or friends who support them.When they ask for something does that automatically mean that they are scamming you?No I don't think so,remember the decision of sending them things is up to you.If you don't feel comfortable sending them money,books or whatever then simply don't do it.If the inmate then never writes back,you know he/she was just in it to get things from you.

My experience is quite the opposite though,my penpals never asked for anything,I offered at times to help them and all of them refused my help.

Again my experience is that most of the inmates are sincere,they want a friend,a contact from the outside world to talk to,to keep them up to date about what is going on in the world and simply someone to open up to.

The thing I love most about writing to inmates is to see them change over time.At first most of them had a lot of trouble trusting anyone.Remember they are in an environment where they have to watch their back 24/7,it's hard for them to trust people.

But as time goes by they start to open more,they will tell more about themselves,their families,the way they grew up and how they ended up in prison.Finally they are able to talk to someone who doesn't judge them,who will just listen and in some cases give them some advice.That's all they want,for someone to hear their voice and confide in,to tell them things they cannot tell to anyone who is on the inside because they might use this information against them.

So I do not agree with you that most inmates are scammers,it's my opinion that most inmates are sincere and just want a friend.Writing to inmates is the best thing I have ever done,I have learned so much from this experience. 4 years ago

i've been exchanging letters with women inmates for three years and never had a single problem

very little money has ever changed hands only stamp money basically and feel your overstepping your bounds

these women are paying they're debt to society so who the hell are you to compound they're misery


Christopher Head

attorney at law

Heidi 4 years ago

Just to let you know my husband who is an inmate I told him about this and he said " yep that there he ain't lyin he right you do got some kats who do that and make a nice lil hustle off women like that. Not everyones like that but you got some that do shit like that. Them are the ones that ruin it for everyone else and a good woman should be smart enough to know all a man needs is her love and if he care about her he ain't gonna ask for nothing from her especially when he locked up and can't do shit for her as it is" so basically he thinks you get all types of personalities but no one gets sent to prison for singing too loudly in the choir. Real men just cut their tail and do their time. Lots of beautiful,intelligent men in prison with great talent. Also a lot of mas manipulators who run a lot of game.

pstar9 4 years ago

just wanted to acknowledge that while I understand some people do scam others in or out of prison, i believe that most people aren't like this. I respect your thoughts. I just wanted to express mine. There are a lot of people trying to do better and need support there. It's just that being smart enough to know a scam when you see it and reading the warning does keep you safe.

Br. Tikhon, CoS Cam 4 years ago

I have been writing an inmate in a federal penitentiary for well over a year. We send about two letters a month to each other. He has never asked me for money or anything else. He is a devout Christian, and we discuss matters of faith and conscience. We also like to talk about movies. I find his ability to cope in an overcrowded environment where he has no privacy, peace or quiet most inspiring. He gives to me as much as I give to him, if not more so.

Pete 4 years ago

I currently correspond with an inmate in an FCI. Until we started communicating I never even thought of being a penpal to anyone (let alone a prisoner). I have to say it's been one of the most enjoyable experiences! We send each other jokes, have a laugh, at times I ask him serious questions and I appreciate his honesty. I don't feet at all like I'm being scammed or used. In fact I'm honoured to have made a new friend and maybe one day we'll catch up in person (we're in different countries). It gives me satisfaction to feel as though I'm helping someone inside who maybe a bit down at times. By simply communicating we've seemed to have developed a good friendship. He's made a mistake (crime) and he knows it. It was a non-violent and non-sexual crime. However, he knows the right road and he's due out in about 18 months. He has a trade background and should be able to get work when he's released. If I ever do send him money then it will be because I want to and no more than I can afford. In the meantime I'll happily keep corresponding with him and enjoy our friendship. Who knows - one day we just may catch up in person and have a good ol' laugh and realise just how good our friendship is. On the other hand, if I don't hear from him again when he's released then I still feel good knowing I was able to keep a fellow human being in good spirits at a time he needed it. It's not that hard to do if you go in with a level head, good intentions and more than a dash of wisdom and maturity.

Heidi 4 years ago

Hi I really enjoyed reading your post. I met my husband in prison and feel so lucky to have him. We had to go through months of counseling before being married. He had been locked up six years and has about seven more. Not once has he asked for money. He helps me a lot. I do put money on the phone but he also is aware of our finances and sends me about 100$ a month that comes from his brother. Before we were married his brother would have to send me a money order.we both grew up a lot the same in urban areas but are different races. Knowing what he says about other inmates and how they are sometimes, I am not all that surprised that this hs been happening but not all cases like this. A lot are looking out for noone but themselves. He wont even play sports or watch them in an effort to stay out of trouble now bc of rediculous issues the most minor thing can create. He doesn't even want me to put a return address on my letters bc he doesn't want another inmate to get my information and write me. Its pretty crazy. When visiting my husband when he was in max the inmate who took photos in visiting area actually gave me his name doc # and asked me to write him. We built a pretty good repor on the dl just when my husband and I were only friends. I later learned he was in prison for a long time and in min security until an aleged relationship with a correctional officer. That's when I realized how ingenious inmates can become. I quit talking to him after I got with my husband but once in a while get updated on his job status and hear from on holidays. He never asked for money and I never sent any. I think I'm very lucky my husband and I are that 1%. My advice is that any man locked up always has his basic needs met and can figure out ways to get what he wants without creating problems on the side. A correctional officer just wants to do his job and go home safe. If your man is making cards to get coffee or giving away trays to get stamps no one will stop him most likely. So he shouldn't need your money. A man of quality knows times are tough especially with a loved one not home to help you, he shouldn't wanna add to that stress for you.

Sci Batts 4 years ago

i had a really bad experience with a prisoner, he broke my heart, i don't care about the money i sent i did that because i wanted to but my heart was really out there for him. its all good though it hasn't jaded me...

4 years ago

Ive seen inmates go as far as 2 marry girls just 2 get what they want... Most of what inmates say or write to these girls is all jail talk!! Not all inmates are this way but most of them are... There just out for themselves.... Its just something to do when theres nothing to do!! If half of these inmates were on the streets they would never look twice at these girls they have while there on the inside!! The inmates are just in it for the hustle!!

Frank 4 years ago

As an Aussie, I choose to write to several prisoners in the USA. This article is a little harsh, there are no guarantees that anyone you meet anywhere is going to treat you perfectly. Sure maybe some will want to scam me, and some definitely won't. If I go around judging everyone before they treat me badly of course I'd avoid any bad experiences, but I'd also miss out on a chance of meeting some great people.

Carlos Colon 4 years ago

I wish the world was different but its not. We have scams and scam artist are in every corner and street. Yes especially prison. But I was and have been one of the lucky one's. I've made a few friends writing to women in prison. I will agree prison was not made for the innocent. But if we turn our backs on everyone because of some then we have a problem. I see that you look and read their mail. Yet with this process you still can not advise people against the ones pulling the scams. There are agencies that people can find prison pen pals. Why can't prison officials and these agencies work together to remove these few indiviuals that prey on the lonely. Have we become that inhuman that we no longer believe that people can be rehablitated. My very first pen pal became my best friend when she was releast. We remained friends until her death two years ago from cancer. Rosa, Rosa and I say her name again ROSA. I was lucky to have had her in my life for five years until her death. There has to be a way that these agencies and religious orginazations can work together with prison officials to keep pen pals clean and safe. Instead of complaining and getting your names in the news lets find some solutions so that others can have the chance to meet their best friend, their Rosa.

Find solutions and stop the cons so that others who can be real have that oppurtunity to be so.

Jamie 4 years ago

I think you're just being rude. Sorry. It's not fair to say EVERY prisoner is like this. Thanks for showing us how small minded you are :)

Rick 4 years ago

Actualy i;m a Canadain,,and i do write to imates and made some friends and never had any bad experiances ,i had some ask for monies but simple ,no but overhaul 99.9 % positive

4 years ago

iv been writting to an inmate for the past yr, whos never asked me for a cent for anything, we talk about each others day to day lives and what hes life was before he went inside i had expressed to him when i started to write this was just to help someone out and hoped it helped him get threw hes day easier having someone write him from outside, we become very close over the past yr and i have no doubt we will become closer on hes release even tho im in another country to him, i think anyone entering into any relationship with someone can be conned i know i have from men not in prison so i disagree every man in side is a con artist, in fact the man i correspond with is probably the most down to earth person who i would feel safe with in any situation to the men iv been around on the outside,to judge someone the way you have becouse there in prison is wrong, how many prisoners are wrongly convicted to start with in your system? becouse they cant afford proper reprosentation, the whole system sucks over there and revolves around money, iv seen how a man can be sentenced for 18months for manslaughter and be released cos he had money to pay for a good laywer and another man serving 18yrs for having a gun in hes possession, becouse he couldnt afford to pay someone to represent him, no wonder the prisons are so crowded over in america, good and bad is in everyone inside and outside the walls of a prison so u cant judge ppl like that im not saying ppl dont scam in there i know they do but they sure as shyt do on the outside as well, common sence with how you deal with ppl should tell you that and make you aware of the warning signs, im glad i met this person threw this and have not regreted my dession to write to an inmate i feel its been a positive experience for both of us, with no expectation from the start besides having someone to express there feelings and future plans in life,as for the inmates who do scam, sometimes when pushed into a situatian when u need to survive in any sort of way you will do what u have to do to get bye and i can understand why they be doing it, when the wages the system gives them for the jobs inside are absolutly rediculouse,maybe if the prison had more reabilition clases instead of ways they can make it harder for an inmate to survive in the system it might make a difference,for me and im sure im write in saying the inmate i speak to it has been a possitive experience for both of us and i look forward to meeting him in the next 7 months before hes release and i will give him every bit of support he needs to get back on hes feet when that happen just becouse i can, without expecting anything from him when u dont expect anything from anyone u cant be let down, PEACE

Japheth 4 years ago

Interesting and kinda hard for me to believe. Because I have spent the past seven years of my life strongly committed to writing to 10-15 inmates at a time on a regular basis. When somebody gets released, I start writing a new person. Most of the time I keep in touch with pen pals who have been released. Not a single time has any of these people EVER attempted to abuse my kindness...unlike people who I have encountered on a daily basis and have never seen the inside of a cell.

nicole( belgium) 4 years ago

im from belgium and i have penpals to, one off them ask me money , but i say no .the first letter that i write i alway's say that i send no money and just friendship, and the accept that .

some people here say that im crazy for writing them, but wat could they do nothing , they are so far away .

i like to write them .

Christine 4 years ago

Oh please Kelli Brown..

Don't speak for me.. I am not duped! My friend is more of a man than many will ever be as he TAKES RESPONSIBILITY for his actions.

I will visit him.. I will hug him and kiss him and he will make me smile.. Actually I have just been added to his visitors list and I can't wait to see him!!

I give him a link to the outside world. I give him the attention that he needs. He has the right to feel cared for, he has the right to touch, he has the right to many things. If you think I am duped, then keep on duping me... I love it!

Christine 4 years ago

Oh. And how you love the terminology.. Convicted felons...

My 'friend' told me about his crime and only blamed himself..

He has taken full responsibility..

He doesn't blame his childhood, his patents.. Nobody but himself.

He writes me three or four letters a week and has done for over six months now.. Not once has he played the victim. There are people out there that do want change in their lives, but with an obvious lack of support from staff, it would be hard to stay positive in that environment.

Yeah.. They are convicted felons.. And no doubt a fair chunk of your colleagues.. Police.. Politicians and the like should be too.. They just haven't been caught.

Carol 4 years ago

No Prisoner has ever conned me.. I have no complaints against any of them!!

Christine E 4 years ago

I have had the most wonderful positive experience with an inmate! My inmate is thoughtful, funny, caring and I think I take away more from this experience than he does. He is motivated and has paid over $3000.00 of his own money to fund an education for himself. He wants a better life and no wonder the prisons are the way they are with narrow minded officers and officers that should be behind bars themselves for the 'extra' pay they receive when they supply inmates with contraband.

I recently moved overseas and my 'friend' offered to send me money that he has in savings for when he is released. He ordered me a present for my birthday and all he asks of me is that I let him know if I choose to stop writing. He is amazing and I support him all the way..

Working in a prison doesn't make you qualified to generalize.. then again.. Most correctional officers couldn't make it elsewhere to begin with.

Toni Morris 4 years ago

I value all that I have learned in my years of writing letters to prisoners. Most of them warned me to not continue to write anyone who asked me for money. That said; I don't believe on should begin looking for a husband by checking out prison. Not a prudent venture. I was looking for friends; and I have found them. My hope is that the people reading your article realize that you are vastly generalizing on what is a small percentage. Lots of people write back and forth to their friends and relatives. The small percentage that have had a bad experience are the only ones the media seems interested in.

Paul Z 4 years ago

Sorry but you are so off base with my perdsonal experience and I must agree with the comments above about corporate greed and the outside world. I have been writing a prisoner for soon to be three years. He will be released soon and he has never asked me for a thing and as a matter of fact he has sent me money. He has sent me money for shoes, money for rent when I ended up unemployed and money for me to do whatever ...treat myself however I want.

Chris 4 years ago

I have written to 2 different inmates and I never had any issues of any kind with either one of them. I would write again. There may be some out inmates that play games but so do regular people so its not any different.

Kayla 4 years ago

Whether they're behind bars or are out free any man or women can play games with you. I write to a few inmates; some I know personally and others I have never met. If any of them play games with me it's because I was to naive to see it. Did you read that? It's because I was NAIVE. I wouldn't blame anyone but myself if that were to happen. But with my situation I am lucky, I have got to know a few great guys behind bars.

Sarah Rivera 4 years ago from San Diego, Ca

The best scam is the one you are unaware of.

When a person is in prison his / her life revolves around phone calls, letters, and visits. When "most prisoners" are released they are no longer restrained by prison rules and have access to the free world. The people who were there for them during their prison stay are no longer the "center" of their world. At that time their true colors come out.

I agree that not all prisoners have the same intentions. However, personal experience has shown me otherwise.

I wish everybody the best of luck and happiness.

Jonni Nededog 4 years ago

You know not everyone is bad or out to scam you, Im actually in a loving mature and lasting relationship with a man who I trust completely with out any doubts, he will be released soon and our life will go on and we will put this nightnare behind us!

Wes 4 years ago

I am a guy from the UK, and I wrote to a lady in a US jail. She was just happy to have someone to correspond with, and to share thoughts and ideas. She has since been released, and we are now facebook friends.

She is now married with children, and is enjoying life.

She has never tried to scam me, there really are some decent people out there, we just need to give people a chance.

Lemania 4 years ago

Everyone can scam you - whether behind prison walls or outside in the world. You are the one that has to trust your instincts on this. I have just begun writing a few inmates mainly because I have time on my hands and I believe good people do bad things some times. It happens. Will I give money - No. Will I send porn pics - No. Will I give heart to heart honest letters - Yes. If it sounds too good to be true it usually is, but don't tar every person in prison with the same brush. There are a lot of "free" people who are scammers and should be in prison, they just haven't gotten caught. If I was in prison, I would appreciate that someone out there wanted to talk to me. They don't have communication like we do and letters are old-fashioned, slow and a nice way to get to know someone. Am I able to be scammed - who knows, but I am not giving up on someone just because they are in prison.

Asianflower 4 years ago

,well I've been writing few inmates from different institution in the states for many years and I dont have any bad feedback or negative comments regarding on their manners as they were kindhearted, I have not been asked for money or anything like that, In fact one of them offer me money to pay for my snail mail to him.

Maria 4 years ago

To All con's are every where in America, and the world!


Beware of them at all time the Internet made it even better for them to seek their victims.

You can be highly educated, but not street smart!

I have family members in prison, and will not cut ties with them unless. I am dead or they have expired in that violent correctional facility.

Regardless of your gender or belief you were created as a human being with common sense, unless you are mentally disable. Now Terry, you know that some of the illegal items that come in the California prison's don't just only come in via visiting. You have corruptive correctional officers too. They are not searched like the visitor's the treatment some get are unacceptable, but when you have loved one's in Prison you go to the extreme just to get a glance of them. I have taken planes, trains, buses, ect... Yes, I am a pen-pal for men/women in California prison's. Yes, some have gotten money not because they ask for it, but because I am a kind person who cares about humans in this planet Earth.

Kelli Brown 4 years ago

Everything Terry Said.Is accurate. the small percentage that dont get"scammed" are just sugarcoating.

Duped is a better word.They will say what you want to hear.period.

SingleMother37 4 years ago

I have been writing inmates from pen pal sites for almost 8 yrs. and have never been asked for money. I have sent and recieved pictures, poetry, and talked on the phone. The inmates I have talked to purchased talk time with their own money and I have never felt like they were scamming me. I am currently writing 4 inmates, one I have known for 2 yrs. And I will continue to correspond with them. I hope that people will continue to write inmates and not base it on what a few have done.

Ellen W 4 years ago

This article is both hateful and ignorant as are some of the comments. A few verifiable FACTS:

1. Prison rape is a real problem, and COs and other prison staff are frequently the perpetrators:

2. Most contraband found in prisons is brought in by guards and other prison employees:

3. There are more than two million inmates in the U.S. Many people here have posted here that there are numerous scams. Please provide documentation to show that it is significant! Cite your sources! I ask this because the State of Florida was unable to document a single case of prison pen pal scamming, even though they incarcerate more people than any state except for California.

I am very suspicious of any former prison employee making such wild claims for several obvious reasons: 1) There is no documentation provided (only his statements); 2) He is clearly unable to write in a professional matter, which immediately weakens his credibility; 3) I've been watching responses on this blog for several weeks, and I've noticed that someone has been removing certain posts that challenge his claims. I have started taking screen shots of this site because I have the feeling this guy is up to something. (Let's see how long THIS post lasts!)

And finally... we live in an age of electronic scamming like no other. Have you heard from a Nigerian banker lately? I actually know of two reasonably intelligent people who feel for that scam. If anyone with any modicum of common sense chooses to become a pen pal with a prisoner, wouldn't that person naturally be on guard? After all, you're corresponding with someone already convicted of a crime. Your guard would be up. Lastly, many foreign folks weighed in here, and they made excellent points about the American penal system. It is big business, and America's most vulnerable suffer the most. It's not just the guards and COs and investors who build prisons who profit. Even judges are selling their souls:

My church launched a pen pal letter writing program for inmates years ago, and since then we have come to learn how evil our prison system is. And now certain politicians are saying we need to lock people up even LONGER. We will continue to write to inmates (and by the way, in all these years we have corresponded with literally hundreds of prisoners and NONE have ever asked for a thing except for one fellow whose mother was sick, and he asked if we could get her to a doctor). And we will continue to speak out on behalf of those who have been silence and who are at the mercy of people like the "gentleman" who posted this blog. It would be ridiculous if it weren't so destructive. It has certainly incited some hyperbolic rhetoric here, and I'm disgusted by the wild, unsubstantiated claims and ignorance.

Posted by Ellen on Jan. 31, 2012 (and yes, I will take a screen shot of this and other rebuttals to Mr. Davis's bizarre claims - something is certainly fishy with this blog)

rocketeer 4 years ago

excuse me, what about corporate greed and deceit? like thats not scamming its worse out here in this jungle of lies amd mistrust,society sucks in this puppet world we live in the goverment is the worst he writes 20 woman ,all he is doing is networking himself just like these puppets that send out reseme,sure some are scams,but i bet alot in there are not and are real genuine people

Ned 4 years ago

I've been writing various inmates for the last few years. My experiences have only been positive for both myself and the inmates. Be safe but remember that although society (and some of the people in it) don't recognize inmates as people, they are. Many can be 'reformed' but not by our prisons. People change with commitment and care. Please consider being active in your community and remember, the average inmate costs your state around $50,000. Wouldn't our country be better with a reformed system, not a system of reform.

sonjamulder 4 years ago

ive corresponded with many around the states, I myselfl ive in the netherlands and all the inmates i write have been nothing but kind and honest. i make it clear to them what my intentions are: it even includes not sending a photo and they all have respected that. not to mention they mail me all the way from the states overseas to amsterdam. spending money and time on me. it makes my day to find a letter. dont ruin a good thing for a lot of inmates just because there are scammers.... scammers are everywhere also outside of prison, doesnt mean we should stop mailing because our mail could possibly end up with a scammer.

DegreenCJ 4 years ago

Well, I guess I'm lucky. My penpal is from IL. We have been corresonding for a yr. I was able to verify everything he told me. He has NEVER asked for money, NEVER said I need or I want. He has a job and is taking classes. He even sent me all the paperwork dealing with his case.

I think one should careful when dealing with people in general.

I think there are scammers everywhere, even in the free world

Pheo 4 years ago

Well I started to read this article but after about 5 minutes, I became so bored with the droll of the writer. Yes there are people being scammed by inmates, but there are also people running free who are scamming someone or some business but what is mentioned about these people??? NOTHING.

I've corresponded with several currently incarcerated inmates and whilst things start off being all light-hearted and 'romantic', once the 'sob story' starts and they say they need this and that or the institution isn't feeding them etc etc YOU have to make a decision. Do you continue to correspond or not?? Simple

And whilst I've always wrote to explain that I won't be corresponding any further and the reasons why. Then I wait to see if there is a response. Simple

I've now been writing to the same inmate now for a little over a year and he has refused to accept any sort of financial help whatsoever, though I have sent some money to him on several occassions, because having done my own research, I am disgusted that in todays society, we still regard these people as 'third rate citizens'. YES, they need to be punished for their actions but when does the rehabilitation begin, or do we simply leave them alone as 'lost causes'.

America has a history of 'lost causes' and now in the 21st Century, they still haven't learned a single thing about how to manage 'society'.

Bonnie Young 4 years ago

While there may be isolated instances where inmates con those they have contact with, the majority are looking for and in need of frienship. There are many case studies that show inmates have a better chance of changing their lives inside of prison and once released when they have relationships with family and frineds. The most important time of day is mail call. Every inmate I have ever written, including my son wait for mail call with anticipation. it reminds them that they are still human, they still matter to someone and there is hope for the future. I encourage everyone to write to an inmate, you may be surprised at the person behind the bars and how easily it could be you.

rich stadler 4 years ago

every day i get a letter from africa wanting to know where they can send me money to. everyday i see a panhandler who is just down on his luck. i don't find any inmate worse than my experiences with the outside population. I have also known too many corrections officers willing to embellish their experiences to support their personal agendas. maybe co's shouldn't be allowed to use mail!

chris 4 years ago

I can understand some peoples experiences with having a 'some what' bad experience with an inmates.

what people FAIL to realize its just the 'bad' experiences that get published and many many of the good experiences go unnoticed.

I see that people are very quick to label someone as 'not worth helping' but yet again people fail to realize that EVERYONE is different and have different agendas.

to label every person as 'no good' will be the death of humanity but i guess this 'The American Way', that approach has failed you on every level and with a greater population of men in jail than the armed forces.........well we are just laughing at your approach.

I agree that some are purely wanting to take advantage of people (you get that in your suburbs also) but dont label ALL as 'no good'

America prides itself on being a 'Christian' Nation but just look at how you treat your fellow human beings and especially your neighbors overseas.

The U.S is a failing state that to be honest it has dug its own grave and we 'the rest of the world' are laughing in shock on how quickly you guys destroyed what used to be 'the land of the free' and 'a great place'.

3 strikes? huh?

no health or education budget?

cant pay your armed forces?

more prisoners than soldiers?

bigger budget than all community help projects combined?

Wall Street guys steal billions and are given less than life? (these are the true Criminals as they organized their crime, where others are simply due to extreme poverty) the land of the free (well if you have enough money that is)

really guys, to curve this growing problem you need to focus on the very basics of your foundations

education, healthcare, social services

Treat the symptoms and not wait for the end product of poverty of your 'so called' democratic society.

Chris Kelly PhD (Aust) Friend / penpal of CA inmates on life sentences.

Good luck America because you guys truly need it

Natalie 4 years ago

I believe that when we start living in a world where we stop putting trust in peoples humanity we might as well stop living all together. Scamming is a very particular type of crime and even though I have no figures to back this up I am positive that 99.9% of the people in prison is not there for scamming. Drug use, armed robbery, car thefts, murder, stealing etc all have nothing to do with scamming a person and its silly and irresponsible to think that because a scammer as you had described the man is the norm. Everyday we talk to people and make new friends and acquaintances and we take a risk, because a person does not have to be behind bars to 'scam' you. So do you good sir never ever associate with other people? No, of course not. We take a risk and we reach out to people because we have compassion, humanity, love and care for others and yes along the lines we might have to be cautious about who we let in but more often than not we find a good positive response. The particular inmate I correspond with has never asked me for money and has even refused offers that I instigated. And yes, there was a poem, but unless some other inmate wrote a poem about me, referencing personal things about me and had it published there is no way he copied his poem. Now people have heard about your scamming inmate and I've given an example of an inmate who just needed a friend to talk to. For anyone who doesn't know what to do: DO write and DO take a chance. Just take care and limit your presents until a reasonable amount of time has been invested and an actual bond/connection has been made. But please let's not give up on these people who will always be a criminal unless we allow them to start over and be law abiding citizens. Think about it.. if the world turned their back on you, would you not do the same? Let's not turn our backs on everyone because of a few bad choices or lost causes (and possible those 'lost causes' were just never given a chance)

DAVID 4 years ago

Your blog should be published in every newspaper around the globe.Thank you! Whilst it would be fair to say some prisoners would be seeking honest companionship by mail many many others would be out to scam manipulate and use and abuse.Do we have statistics on crime when these crimnals have been released to be with their pen pals ? What gives these cretins the right to correspond with pen pals surely this must be seen to be a failing on our prison system.Im all for human rights but to place vulnerable and lonely people at risk by such a practise probably tells us these criminals are just no hopers with no incentive to improve their miserable lifestyle. TYhank you.

Ceri 4 years ago

Whilst I agree that writing to an unknown inmate if you are a vulnerable person is probably a bad idea, I would say that my penpal relationship is probably one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. I have never met, spoke to over the phone or funded him in any way - nor has he asked me to. We have corresponded for over 2yrs. I now know his family.

He respects my 'real life' and would not insult my intelligence or alienate my partner by coming on strong in any way.

Penpals CAN be abused by inmates, but they can also be a genuine safe haven to otherwise vulnerable (in many ways) men. For me, I feel for this guy as though he were an 'out of town cousin' - I care about his well being very much and will support as much as I am able to, but understand that I have no right to intrude in his life any more than he does in mine.

Be sensible and think twice about what you write and to whom, but that applies to any forum as there are so many ways you can be abused in this life! Don't let that stop you from doing anything that you want to, I can assure you that if you are of a level head you will have no regrets.

(Ceri, 25, female, uk - Longterm penpal to a CA based inmate on a life sentence)

blackielawless 4 years ago

i've written to many female inmates.only a few have asked for money and/or stamps.most of them are just looking for love,serious relationships and marriage.i found my soulmate through women behind bars.she has sent me a lot of cool stuff like cards and magazine articles.i've written to her for almost 3 years and she's never asked me for money,stamps or called me collect! thats why i can tell this person is for real and doesn't play games.scams and bad experiences can happen through any web site.i'll always believe actions speak louder than words!

Sue Sykes 4 years ago

all people are not the same and therefore should not be treated with the same contempt this man obviously feels for all prisoners regardless of their crimes. i correspond with a prisoner in texas and for all the time we have been writing to each other the question of any rela tionship has never arisen!! i reject the idea that all correspondents who choose to write to a pen pal in prison should be labeled as idiots desperate for a relationship!

Sebastien Arseneault 4 years ago

This is ridiculous. Many of you are implying that prisoners are incapable of connecting with other people and that they are inherent sociopaths. This is incredibly ignorant. If prison made all people sociopaths, then why would you even support the institution of incarceration? There is no logic in that; it doesn't add up.

Secondly, I have maintained meaningful and positive pen pal relationships with many inmates and was never scammed. Just because people in general are capable of conning other people doesn't mean that all prisoners are automatically con artists. That is a narrow-minded view of the state of affairs. I'm sorry that many of you have had (or think you had) bad experiences with prisoner correspondence but it is just that - YOUR experiences. Many people have connected with inmates through mail correspondence and have developed meaningful relationships with them, including me. So please keep that in mind and do not push your blanket statement that all prisoners are out to get you and take advantage of you on society. You will only end up hurting people who do not deserve it.

LaLuz 4 years ago

There is a bottom line here and it is simple: People only hurt you if you allow them to. Many, many women get involved with inmates because of their own personal darkness and they're looking for free therapy, for lack of a better way to characterize it.

I have been friends with an inmate for over a year now. Who I reached out to after leaving urban missions and correctional nursing.

I have learned to be very careful with him. As if I'm too forthcoming with my struggles as a single parent, he ends up having his mother mail me a gift certificate from his personal savings to pay for my daughter's broken glasses. Or paying my phone bill.

I have yet to pay for my RN boards after being an LPN for years and finally finishing my degree, and just got a check in the mail from his trust to cover the cost of this as well.

He's never asked me for a dime. Others he's incarcerated with have spoken to others on my behalf and secured employment for me so that I can continue to provide for my children.

He hasn't hurt me because I haven't ALLOWED him to, and because I did HEAVY research before I chose some person to write to willy nilly. Those who ARE scammed, are scammed because they allowed it to, don't have the boundaries necessary to engage in a relationship of this type, and have no business using these inmates as a way to feel better about past hurts. Period.

I don't want to hear about how all inmates are "scammers" because the only difference between them and the scammers not incarcerated, is that one got caught and one didn't.

Edna Mc 4 years ago

I just want to state that I'm part of a Prison Ministry Outreach thru our Church. We have had this for about 10 years now and written to many prisoners. Never, may I repeat, never have I or any member of our Team ever been scammed, or even an attempt at a scam. I just wanted to add this positive comment, as not all prisoners are "scammers". Thank You

Cam Murphy 4 years ago

I agree that there can be scams, but I also want to encourage everyone to stay open to developing friendships or other sorts of relationships with pen-pals. I have been writing the same inmate for nearly 3 years; our relationship is entirely platonic; and he is now one of my closest friends.

One should of course be careful, but I fear that this article will lead to less correspondence between peoples in and out of prison. There are thousands of people in prison wanting friendship, even the slightest chance to communicate with someone, to have their name written back to them. These relationships can be priceless.

Nicky 4 years ago

Unfortunally for all that have bad experience, (which in numbers does not add up to all the good that comes from communicating with people who are in prison), and that like to dwell on it. There are actually proven positive experiences and people comming out so much better. Then again it is for shallow people to continue to judge people and write them off without knowing whole stories. Every person in this world has a story behind the lives they have lived, and it has happend.. quite often that when exclude people from the world of interaction that they wont grow from it for the better. Now corresponding keeps them with both feet on the ground and receive positivity and keep them basically sane, in order to come out as a better person and to be an asset to society. Interaction means improvement. When they are achieving goals such as education, it is important to give them positive response to that, in order to maintain their growth. And as one of these womens... for us its just a stamp to make a person smile and to help come a step closer keeping them on the right track. If i wanted more out of that then that, i would seek someone thats within reach not behind bars...

I have 4 penpals who i have been corresponding with for years, and i love every bit of it. I encourage everyone that is able to commit to writing to do so and to use that stamp, unless you prefer to have antisocial people within your community upon release, as that is what the system is doing..

I myself.. I prefer to feel proud of them to achieve such a turn around as getting a degree and work in our economy and have a good social life and give back to society. And let them know that life aint that bad..

Thomas Hofer 4 years ago

A long time ago, specifically six years, I made a pen-pal contact through with a woman who was an inmate at the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women (LCIW) at St. Gabriel, LA. She and I had earlier lived in St. Tammany Parish (County), LA, and she knew some people I knew for that time as well. She was placed at that institution after being given a flat six-year sentence on a fraud charge. Once we befriended each other, with me also making visits, I tried to get her sentence reduced, as I had questions as to how it came about in the first place. But my efforts failed at every turn. While in the institution, she became ill, and I am questioning the quality of health care she received. She was released in September 2010 and never fully regained her good health. In October 2011, she died, and I still miss her. I would greatly have enjoyed contacts with her in the free world as well.

Vince Polizzi 4 years ago

My experience is that they become seasoned conartists.and once released.Find it difficult to interract with people who are not like they are.I think its called Institutionalized.These women are deluded to think they are the only one.When just like Terry says.Thats just not true.They lie like a rug.Or they will say they spent hours in Art class drawing you something. When you know the person an cant they cant draw.You need to wise up.He probly paid with a fish packet to get someone to help scam.Terry is all this right?

My question is.Do they become so used to turning off there emotions.Is that why they call them Hardened?And cannot socialize with"9-5" day job normal folk?Because it seems they cant even make eye contact with people.

Kelli Brown 4 years ago

What I mean is things like this.

Do they tell inmates around them like things they are doing to people.

"Ha ya I took this one for more money" or "This girl will do anything she's weak" In my case once he saw everything he told me was gonna happen was a lie, he turned tables on me trying to make me look like the bad guy. and for ten months we had planned an written an did everything you said, the phone bills the magazines. all of it.Meanwhile.He was writing a 60 year old an a his 19 year old stepsister.Yes. He had no I found myself in a Stephan King Nightmare. Im 40 an had been successful an single no kids no drugs no drama. Then after 22 years found my childhood sweetheart,an he was a local nobody crackhead in a village of 500 in illinois.I had come from Scottsdale Az to a sheer hillbelly hellhole. Point is he back in prison. an once again. Do all the guys in there eventually get so Warped there is no hope for them? How come when they have a genuine way out an good connections they 95% of time go back to the bad people. I dont get it.

Terry B. Davis profile image

Terry B. Davis 4 years ago Author

Kelli, I don't know I would call it bragging or not, but they talk all the time about cons and crimes they have committed, what they did wrong or right, or that they were just unlucky when they got caught. They will teach each other tricks of the trade etc.. however, I have seen cases where they will pass addresses around to their buddies along with instructions on how to get on the persons goodside. I have also seen cell mates steal their buddies address books or pictures and then try to write to the individual. One guy would hand write 10 letters a week to girls who submitted their address to one of the pen-pal mags. For $20.00 they would get a list of 1,000 names and addresses. He would receive back about 5 to 7 letters a month, of which 2 or 3 would send money or stamps, so he doubled his expenses. He would hand write identical letters, just made slight changes in each to individualize them if they wrote back. After a year he was getting about $100.00 a month. Prior to his leaving prison he passed the business over to his cell mate. As he said, it was an easy way to make money while in prison, and required a minimal amount of time.

Hope this answers your question. Good luck and thank you for your comment.

Kelli Brown 4 years ago

I read the article. an became slackjawed at the accuracy.I had same exact experience happen.he was a childhood friend I had thought about for well over 22 years. He was in IDOC for 5th Dui an a slew of other things an I told Myself he had a rough life etc.I picked him up from prison.he then hid from me. He ended up conning My Gram out of $1000.A Sociopath. an saying he didnt know what I looked like before I picked him up an said I was a huge retard an hid from me. After I packed up an moved home 2200 miles from Arizona.Everything he said for 19 months a LIE!Do they brag to other inmates about there cons?

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Terry B. Davis 4 years ago Author

LeAnn, thank you for your comments. However, all out going mail is scanned which includes looking for codes, phrases and other ways that inmates use to communicate for drugs, gangs, etc. Not only have I seen their mail, but I have also listened to over 2,000 telepone calls, have interviewed inmates indepth for 25 years. I worked on the streets and talked with their husbands, wives, mothers fathers, brothers sisters, neighbors and friends. I have worked in uniform, undercover,as a supervisor and as a disciplinary officer. I have spent over 40 years in the law enforcement field. I have also had family members and friends that turned to crime, were convicted, and sentenced to prison. Maybe your org. helps some, but I have followed them from prison to the streets, and most return to their old ways as soon as they leave the prison walls, some wait until their is nothing more to gain, and a few turn themselves around. Many of these individuals need tough love, the hug a thug doesn't work, just drains resources from those who would be helped.

Since I don't know you, I would gather that you are a very caring and sincere person, I wish you all the best.

Terry Davis

Leann Sowell 5 years ago

I must say that I had the strongest desire to stand up from my desk here in Texas and APPLAUD one of the feedback posters named[OMG]to this article here!! Bravo OMG! BRAVO!!

I too am a professional within the realm of Criminal Justice. Sixteen-years under my belt and still going strong!

The "99%" grabbed at me too and the fact that this was based on ONE person. A person whom Mr. Davis, [you] took such interest in his letters that you apparently sought him out. With all due respect Sir, it is my suspicion that YOU may have been the person personally scammed by what may have been your own inappropriate relationship somewhere down the line of your career

with an offender-inmate. Female, male, who can say?

When the persons mail wasn't raising any security risk flags relating to violence of institutional security,

you Sir, were in direct violation of this persons institutional and constitutional rights. Ref: Procunier vs Martinez.

To paint prisoners in such a dark and biased light, and I must agree with OMG, lacking largely with evidence to support your 99%...

Your article here is nothing more than ONE person's-[your] obvious attempt to paint a majority in such a light that would only serve to reinforce an ignorant stereotype of persons behind bars.

It appears to me that [you] have some greater issues than you do with your ruse to warn possible victims of scamming. Thank goodness you are OUT of the system now

Mr. Davis. Unfortunately we have unreliable and unprofessional employees inside our correctional institutions alongside those serving time.

There is nothing wrong with anyone feeling a desire to send some form of monetary support to those behind bars when you take a [realistic look at the very shape of our prison system and its conditions in its entirety.

Funds are used to purchase food that is in all reality more edible than what prison chow halls are serving these days and hygiene items, correspondence supplies. I do agree that it is WRONG to mislead anyone in the areas of romance but, prison officials and their subordinates are not hired to distinguish and or investigate the differences between the day to day developments of matters of the heart where prisoner correspondence or incarceration is concerned.

God Bless You Mr. Davis...

And may our living God continue to bless us professionals who are determined to help prisoners regain a fresh start forward in life through and after incarceration

Leann M. Sowell

Executive Director

R.I.F.T. Reaching Behind Bars


DeborahBJ2 5 years ago

I was a prison educator for years. In that time, I found that most COs and inmates didn’t like each other. The tension in prison between these two groups is profound. I knew many good COs and many good inmates. Yes, inmates can be good. I just wouldn’t ever expect to hear a good thing coming from one person in either group about the other. I didn’t personally know any inmates running scams, but I did know a lot of inmates who benefited from family and friends on the outside writing to them, visiting them, and encouraging them. The inmates really looked forward to this on a level that’s hard to explain, and I had a more open dialogue with them than the COs ever did. I was never asked to do anything illegal, but I did help some inmates find pen pals through my church, and it was a positive experience for everyone involved. Our warden encouraged things like this.

I am surprised to see what seems to be unique people (although I am cautious of open posting sites like this) claiming that an inmate scammed them. The comment above mine from “Commonsense” is correct. You have to make the choice to send an inmate money. Commonsense (pun intended) will tell you not to send them money. This kind of thing goes on in our world every day. I don’t really buy into the "conman" stereotype. After all, they’re inmates. If you’re that foolish to send money, you probably shouldn’t be interacting with many people. I don’t think sending money to an inmate and later regretting it necessarily means you were scammed either. I think it’s just a lot easier to think/say you were scammed with an inmate.

I don’t see anything tangible in terms of real "evidence" of scams on this page. It is strictly opinion. This is mine, and I think we should all make our own.

Commonsense 5 years ago

Yes, commonsense. You have to send an inmate money to get "scammed". How is that scamming? The inmate asks for money, you send the money, and now you're "scammed"? Send support instead of money. Honestly, I don't know how people on the street aren't parting you from all of your money before you have a chance to get "scammed". This is ridiculous, and it paints all inmates looking for friendship in a horrible and unfair light.

flowerdust 5 years ago

I had and have a few inmate penpals. The ones I wrote and write with have never ask for money.They remembered my birthday and send me valentines cards.One stop writing after he got out of prison.

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Terry B. Davis 5 years ago Author

CIARA, if he is continuing as he did on the outside then the odds are that is the way he is. It doesn't mean that he is not using you. I have seen many that have several girlfriends/babbies mamas so that they will have a place to go to and money. As in any relationship, love only will work when both parties bring something to the relationsship, referrring to working and support of the family, setting mutual goals etc. As i said, you know him, evaluate your relationship on both sides, the heart and the head. Good luck. Thanks for your comments.

Autumn Tears 5 years ago

To Val Elliott: I agree with Mr Davis. It seems that u dont really want any advice. U have ur answer. U said in ur post that ur "in love". That tells me all I need to know. Instead of focusing on this worthless male, whom I know u will defend until the end of time, why dont u go back to school and develop urself. U need an education in and out of school. Work on bettering urself, why dont u? Oh, I know the answer already. It is as u have stated "we are in love". One day u will discover that what u have it NOT love at all and I hope that u have enuff going on internally to fast forward without the excess baggage.

Jennifer 5 years ago

I nearly became a victim of a prisoner's scam myself. I placed a pen pal ad on one penpal website which had nothing to do with having contact with prisoners, with my home address (yes, I know now that it was stupid of me to do that) and stated that I only wanted to write to women, although men didn't seem to understand that. I received a letter from a prison inmate and assumed he was lonely, though he didn't tell me where he obtained my name and address from. First he asked me to send him some information on Australian Aborigines which I thought was okay since I am living in Australia. Then it was the Dugons, then he said that he would ask me to send him information on other indigenous people later on. In the second letter he complained about not having much paper to write his letters on, so I sent him some paper. If I didn't write to him quickly enough he would send me another letter because he was worried that he had upset me. The fifth letter (I think) asked me to type up his newsletters for him to use in his prison group because his typewriter was broken, send him photos of women from "certain websites" (I read that to be pornographic photos), and send him about 100 names and addresses of women who wanted penpals from penpal websites. He would always tell me that he was broke and that his family spent all his money, and since he had moved to a different facility he didn't have a job so he needed me to work for him for nothing so that he could make money for himself. That was the last straw and I e-mailed the prison to ask them to stop forwarding his letters to me which they did. Since then I have received two letters from other prisoners who obtained my name and address the same way, but didn't tell me that they were in prison. Unfortunately the numbers after their name and the fact that the envelope is stamped "inmate mail" is a dead giveaway that they are in prison. Both those letters I threw away, and I will do the same with any other letters from prisoners that I receive. If I ever put another penpal ad on the Internet, I will rent a post office box first. I just don't want to take any more chances with prisoners. The first one seemed to believe that we were in a relationship despite the fact that I kept on telling him that I only wanted to be friends. I was pretty sure he wanted me to be waiting at the prison gates when he was released (whenever that would be - he never told me).

CIARA 5 years ago


Terry B. Davis profile image

Terry B. Davis 5 years ago Author

Val, You already know the answer to your question. Why would a 40 year old nurse buy an inmate a lawyer? Was he using her? Does he use his parents, friends or others? Why would you be any different?

Good luck, be honest with yourself, as I have said you already know the answer, now you must make a decision and stick with it.

val elliott 5 years ago

i have an inmate sending to help me out with my bill. but i have to send him money so that he can by things, sell it and get more money to give me. i have been knowing this man since we were 14. we are both now 25 and have not seen each other in 6 years. we were in love but i cheated on him. but now we are talking again we are in love. but when we were young he respected me and treated me like a queen and we waited three years to have sex. he never brought or talked about any of him bad way to me in the streets. when he came to me, it was peaceful for him and we always slept the phone. now i lied one time since we met again and he call me immature and a lil girl and feel that i lack experiance and dont no how to be a woman and he calls me all kinds of name. now i so hurt cause of this. he lied and said he was not talking to no one, but he is talking to a lady who is a nurse in her 40. she brought him a laywer and he have to tell her that he love him and things. thats what told me atleast. now i wont talk to him and he keeps trying to apologies and says that he dont wanna loose all contact with me and that hie will respect me. he says we dont have to be lovers and we can just start out as friends. but that he want to build trust in me. sometimes i talk to his mom. am i crazy or is he really serious?

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Terry B. Davis 5 years ago Author

Sally, sorry I am so late in answering. Usually, your sons problem is due to his own doing, barrowing money(or anything of value), dope, gambling and those sort of things. Also he maybe victimized as he is seen as weak or because of him having to take psych meds he is seen as defective. If he is the victim he either has to stand-up for himself and refuse to be blackmailed or go to the prison officials and tell them what is going on, this of course can label hinm a snitch and cause a whole new set of problems.

And as always, he maybe just fine and is scamming you to get money/packages.

You are in a difficuilt position, if this was any other person besides your son what would you do? Sometimes tough LOVE is the last resort.

I wish I could give you the answer, but I can't, no one can, it's up to you. Most people refuse to make a decision because of fear, fear that if something happens to your son it would be your fault. Can you continue this forever? It has to stop at some point and what will happen will happen regardless of when you stop sending money/packages. Since this is not the first time he has had this problem, it would appear that he is responsible, not you.

I wish you luck

Sally 5 years ago

Well, what my son is dealing with is being scammed on the inside and calling and needing money and is scared. I went thru this at the other prison and it passed after a while. This one seems to be going on and on and I cannot afford to keep sending money. Now of course I also worry that I am being scammed (and I am) cuz I am enabling him by sending the money - I hate this! My son has his own issues to deal with and then adding this on to it has just created this viscious cycle that he can't get out of? He feels trapped and alone. I wish he had someone there he could see? He wished he was back at his med security prison (more structure) that the min (at Fort Dix) it is what it is - there's no going back now. What should he do???

Popstar 5 years ago

I believe everything you are saying..Why,because i am living this nightmare.I started talking to a guy that i knew when i was a teenager and i had the biggest crush on him but at the time he was seeing other girls and really showed no interest in me.Well we got older and i found out that he had got locked up for first degree murder and he was sentenced to life in prison..Well,he got in touch with me through his cousin and i started talking to him,but at first i was hesitant because he never really liked me before but as we talked he told me that he did like me and that he has always thought about me..Well,me being the person i am i thought he was lieing but i ignored that inner voice...i started to go and visit him and that one visit turned into more visits but the strange thing about this,was when i started visiting him the two family members that were visiting him stopped visiting him.I found this to be so strange..Even his own mother stopped visiting him..then after a few visits he told me he loved me..that was strange but my dumb butt let it suck me the unthinkable happened?.....I married his butt..yes!i f***** up people...I would break my neck to go see him..I would take my last dollar and buy new outfits just to look nice to go and see him..I would pretend like i had my life under control just to impress him,not knowing that i was the brokest person in America ya"...I would send him 80 dollars every two weeks and put money on the phone50 bucks just to talk to his tired and run down a**.He would call me his angel and write me billions of letters and write some of the most beautiful poetry i have ever read and in my desperate mind and low self esteem having a** i would believe this punk...Sometimes the things he said were almost fairy tale like and he would try to talk dirty to me in these letters as though he was the only man with a frankie on the planet...Then i started noticing that on some of the visits the types of women that wanted these men..and no disrespect to any woman that is n love with a CON'VICT! i was 5'9,145 looking like a beautiful model and these women were either obese,7 feet tall,old wrinkled and tired looking or just down right Ghetto and stank,stank.There were some that were attractive like me but the prisoners they were there to see were getting out soon and they were together before the prisoner was put there..But i would always feel out of place and embarrased.I would spend my last 20 dollars worth of change in the vending machines for his hungry a** and i would say to myself" lord i need this dang 20,but i used it to feed and satisfy his ruined a**..I was showing out like i was rich..I bought him pop...juice you name it and he was so selfish he took what i had bought for me...Am i still married to him..Yes! but he was moved so far away that i cannot afford to see him like i used too and truthfully all i can say is"THANK YOU GOD"....I am working on a divorce..he doesn't know it..I plan on moving...I will say this much...He has tried to make me feel guilty for saying that i want a divorce and am leaving him...He has told me i am like the rest i have no faith..he has used many tactics to get me to stay..But these convicts and i mean ALl of them are selfish,manipulators.con artists,liars,deceivers and i am a living witness to this..They tell you what they think you wanna hear,they talk about you behind your backs,they have other are not the only one and if you think you are than you must be on drugs..they only want your money and an outside connection and some letters and possible visits and if all fails with you believe me..their so called prison fag or straight buddies will hook them up with other females..These men do not love you because if they truly did,they would wait to be released to have an unselfish relationship with you..These men if and when they do get out will use you for a place to stay and then meet the real woman of their dreams and poof! be gone and it will be no ones fault but your own.To the women out here that are lonely and horny..there are a lot of men out here,free in the world that will and can give you what you want and need you just gotta have confidence and self esteem.And yes the men and the world outside of prison can be worse,but at least you can see and know what your working with off hand in prison you see,hear and know nothing..I will say I love him,but i love myself even more and YES! i deserve more and better...Please save yourselves..,If he truly loves you he will come to you when he is free and if he is a lifer,he will not be so selfish as to marry you or start a relationship with you knowing his a** is not getting out..that is not love,but selfishness and his own intentions to use you for his own personal needs...Peace.

Autumn Tears 5 years ago

Hi Terry,

My niece was very angry with me initially but now she says she is being released in 45 days and that her "spiritual mother" helps her with boxes. She did apologize and stated she is not a money loving person and that money has never brought her love. I am hoping that she and I can build a relationship but she admits to having trust and depression issues. She is on meds. I love her and I am praying for her and her brother who is also incarcerated. Thank u for ur forum.

Autumn Tears 5 years ago

I really like this forum and I think it should be a MUST READ for all whether or not u r involved with someone in the penal institution. I have travelled extensively and have met all manner of men and women and have been robbed of belongings whilst traveling from ppl who have befriended me. One woman lived in Algeceriras and offered to wash my clothes for me. I agreed and offered to pay her. When she returned the clothes thru another party, some items were missing! That was her payment I suppose. Other women I met while travelling met foreign men who tell them what they want to hear only to get that green card and later divorce them. This is a marriage scam and men from a certain north Africa nation, especially Morocco have perfected this. On other forums I have attempted to warn females. Women from Canada and America seem to fall so easily for this and do u know, these women are extremely scornful of being warned to be careful with their money? It is the same ole game with a twist and these females hate being told to watch their wallets. The games some of these foreign men play is a variation of the games inmates play but these women claim it is love at its truest. U would not believe how many get scammed into buying the visa, plane ticket and paying all the bills all in the name of "love". Some of those males only love money but they(the females) wont hear of it and get extremely angry if anyone tries to tell them otherwise.

Meredith 5 years ago

I loved your article and agree pretty much. I guess, I'm the lucky one, I met my man 07 and he was in prison in CA, I was living in Europe and we were just pen pals, but then something happened and we clicked. He's out now and we are married, living in US and very happy.

I supported him financially and so on, but after he got out (09) of prison he started working and hes working like crazy and supporting me now. You could say, hes a good man. No more crimes and problems with the law. I'm proud of him, the way he is today, hes caring and loving. Lesson learned.

Anyway, Terry you are so right, my hubby told me horror stories about other many women lost their jobs, houses, cars, everything. Makes me kinda sad. Gut feeling is usually right, some women and men live in denial because the truth is too much to bear.

Thanks again and have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day!

SimpleGiftsofLove profile image

SimpleGiftsofLove 5 years ago from Colorado

Your hub is honest and realistic. I, like you got tired of the politics. I read your comment on another hub, and was so relieved that it was normal to not want to go to malls and be in big crowds. Its been just 3 years, but its still an adjustment, maybe we get progressively free. I got some pretty difficult criticism for my hub from a cat who makes money matching pen pals. Big surprise. Appreciate your take on the subject. Glad you are able to write about other things too...Blessings!

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Terry B. Davis 5 years ago Author

Autumn Tears, Sarah Rivera, and Kim; Thank you all for your comments. I am sorry it took me so long to approve and comment on your comments. Again, thanks for your participation and your wonderful comments.


Kim 5 years ago

I'm so glad I ran across your article. I'm about to work as an RN in a correctional facility and was just trying to find out the games that these guys play. Your article was very informative.

Sarah Rivera 5 years ago from San Diego, Ca

I learned the hard way that inmates do not discriminate in regards to manipulation. Mr. Davis has done a wonderful job describing inmate manipulation.

I should have became a member before I posted my story. My apologies.

Autumn Tears 5 years ago

Some ppl have criticized the original author for his comments re: Games Inmates Play and have even commented on his grammar, but I would like to encourage all readers to please pay attention to the message and not how it is written because u can get the message. I took away from the blog the warnings that inmates can be very clever and ppl who are susceptible and vulnerable need to be careful in their dealings with them. I have relatives in prison and though I love them I have to remain careful with them. It is scary because they are relatives and I want to help but I cant relinquish common sense either and have to place limits.

Sarah Rivera 5 years ago

My story starts in 2007. My friend was dating an inmate. At first I didn't think anything of it. Before long she showed me a picture of an attractive man in his early 20's. I figured, "What's the harm? I'll give it a try. My current relationship isn't working out." One day when she was on the phone with her boyfriend, she handed me the phone it was "him." He sounded nice and very well mannered. I gave him my information. He contacted me within a few days.

The story was just as you described. He told me about his offenses, time spent in prison, his hopes for the future, and overwhelmed me with flattery. I was naive and in an emotionally-abusive relationship which made me vulnerable to manipulation. I told him about the problems I was having in my current relationship. He told me everything I wanted to hear, including that he would never treat a "real woman like that." Needless to say, I left my boyfriend for the inmate. For the next two years I was in a fantasy world. I began accepting collect calls that totaled approximately $6000 for two years. If I wasn't able to accept collect calls because I needed to pay my bill, he would have another inmate's wife 3-way a call. I became friends with some of the other wives but the friendship was short lived. (The reason being that he was talking to other women and the inmate wives didn't want to get involved.)

He didn't ask me for money, 3-way calls, or to forward mail for other inmates while he was at that correctional facility. He included his family in his manipulation. He had several of his relatives on his father's side of the family contact me and introduce themselves. His relatives added to the flattery and lies. He never allowed me to talk to his Mother's side of the family. Because I was in love with him, I didn't question him. I believed everything he said. Other than my friend who was also dating an inmate, all my family members and friends told me that I was being used. I wish I listened.

Before he could be released on parole, he was required to complete a work furlough program. I didn't know he wasn't allowed to have a cell phone. So when he asked me to pay for the phone bill, I did. During his time in the program, unknown to me, he was using the cell phone to talk to other women. He also created a MySpace account where he met several women. I should have known something was wrong because every time I called the cell phone his friends answered the phone. They always answered, "Who's this? He's busy." When he called me later, he claimed that his friend "forgot" to give him the message. When he was released he gave the phone to his friend.

After he was released he our relationship went well for about 5 weeks. He found a job as a janitor. Then he began hanging out with old friend and using methamphetamine. He quit his job and told me that his boss was a prick. I talked to his boss. He told me, "He's always late and sometimes he doesn't show up. When he is here, he's always on the cell phone talking or texting." I didn't understand how that was possible because he always left early enough to get to work and I didn't call him while he was at work. I confronted him about it, he denied it. Instead, he asked me if I would consider having sex with him and his friend at the same time. I told him, "No." He said that I was selfish and didn't care about his needs.

The next day, he said he had to go to be with his family because he hasn't been able to spend time with them. (We lived in San Diego his mother's family is in San Jose. I work and already used all my paid time off.) He had other plans besides being with his family. When he got there he did not call for me for two weeks. I called his cell phone, he didn't answer. I called his aunt she said, "Give him some time to settle in with is Mom's side of his family." I tried to ignore the bad vibrations I was getting from his aunt. I knew she was hiding something. She was adamant that I didn't call over there and claimed that his Mom's side of the family was crazy and jealous of his good looks. She was trying very hard to convince me that he was a good guy and he would never do anything to hurt me because he loved me too much. Obviously he manipulated his aunt into lying for him.

I got tired of listening to his lying aunt. The phone was in my name, I got an itemized bill from the phone company. I called his Mom's side of the family to get a straight answer. His relatives said that he treated their home like a cheap hotel. They were upset because he was bringing and using drugs in the house. He also took his "crime partners and girlfriends" to the house and any stolen property they acquired. He didn't spend any time with his family. Most of the time they did not know where he was at. In fact, they told me, "We heard about you. We were wondering why he didn't bring you. He's always beings different girls to the house. We always known him to be a player. We don't know you but we feel so bad for you. Forgot about him and move on because the only person he cares about is himself. He's a user." They were right. I heard from him when he wanted money.

While he was there, he went on a crime spree. He, his new girlfriend, and friends committed countless crimes. He prostituted his new girlfriend for drug money, if that wasn't enough they robbed people. They were eventually caught and convicted. When he went back to prison, he called (using 3-way) to ask me for money and sent me several I'm-sorry letters. I did not respond. I guess he got tired of wasting stamps because he stopped writing to me.

I learned my lesson. It was the worst relationship I've ever been in. My friend, who introduced us, also had a similar result when her boyfriend was released. They are no longer together. This experience has opened my eyes. Since then, I will not correspond with anybody in prison / jail. I date men without a criminal record who have a stable job and future goals.

I hope that anybody who reads this takes your advice.

Autumn Tears 5 years ago

Dear Terry,

Thank u for ur response. I believe it is some kind of con that my niece is attempting. She even told me that given a choice between having me in her life or me sending her the box, she said (with an attached smile) that she would rather have us both! So that told me how much she really values our relationship. I feel badly for her because of the high level of dysfunction in our family (drugs, alchohol, prison et cetera by multiple family members) but I wont be her fool. If she writes me back, I will send her a small check to her account. I also offered to come visit her but she has refused to put me on her list, even though I live in a different state and am willing to travel at my own expense. By the way, it is not cheap to fly, book a hotel and rent a car or try to get the prison bus. That too was very telling. Sad but true.

Autumn Tears 5 years ago

My niece asked me to send her a food package because she stated the food at Chowchilla is terrible. The catch is she asked me to send her multiple items totalling over 100 dollars and she wants it sent to someone elses account. Can u please tell me what kind of game she is playing. I sense a con but she got it honest from her mom and grandmother (sorry to say that). This article is fascinating to me and I agree with the posters comments.

Jackie 5 years ago

I have a family member currently in jail but will be headed to prison after his sentencing. While he has been in jail, he is always asking us to put money in his commissary account. He says the food portions are small during meals and he is not given any toiletries, paper, stamps, hair cuts, etc. He also states the snacks and other commissary items are expensive. I've tried to get a price list of commissary items from the County Jail but no one returns phone calls. Am I being scammed? What if an inmate has no family or friends to put money in their commissary acccounts - would that inmate never be able to wash themself because they could not buy toiletries? I realize you are in California. I am dealing with Wayne County in Michigan. Wondering if you could answer my question in general. Many thanks!

Cemetery Girl 5 years ago

Not sure what to think about the article, because my fiance and I lived together for a year and a half before I got pregnant and he left. He said he freaked out over being a dad for the first time. Even though he was gone and with other women during this time, he came to the hospital when my daughter was born and would drop in every so often after that to see her. He claimed he started using drugs right around the time she was born, and I could tell he was a totally different person. He turned into a horrible, sneaky, untrustworthy person. I should add that during the time he lived with me...and was CLEAN...he had a good job and he pitched in on the bills. We didn't have a good relationship, largely because I'm a difficult person to live with anyway.

He is currently serving a four-year prison term for robbery. Obviously he is clean again now, and he has gone back to the person he was before he started using...he wants to go back to school, but he has also expressed an interest in being a stay at home dad - which is fine with me. He has gotten close to his family again and he told me he wants to get married because I am the only person who didn't turn my back on him and tried to help him, even though he hurt me horribly.

He asks for money sometimes, as much as I am able to afford (only $10 or $20 a week), and calls as often as he is allowed. I being scammed? Because it sure doesn't seem like it to me. Seems to me like maybe there are SOME scammers, but statistically speaking, most inmates have some form of mental disorder and/or drug/alcohol dependency which contributed to acts leading to their incarceration. They're not always there simply because they know how to prey on people.

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smartrich22 5 years ago from Bandung, Indonesia

Hi Terry.. very nice descriptions. It seems you've rich with life experience :)

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Terry B. Davis 5 years ago Author

Briana, when he gets released he will be on parole. You can contact his parole agent and explain the situation to him. Ask the parole agent to instruct the parolee to have no form of contact with you, in person telephonically, or by any other electronic means to include letters, notes, or contacts through a third person.

You might contact his correctional counselor and and have him also inform the inmate not to contact you also. Once this is done, you are not to initiate any contact with him, or allow him to contact you without telling the parole agent. If you have problems getting them to help you can file for a no contact/restraining order from the courts. You will have to go to court and tell a judge why you want the order, and why you feel you maybe in danger. Be specific with the judge. Once you have the temp. order and again if the judge upholds the order, take the original to the parole agent and have him place a no contact order on the parolee's special parole conditions. If that is done and the parolee has contact he can either be charged by the courts and or by the parole agent. Remember a piece of paper can not protect you from him if he wants to violate the court orders and parole. So based on how dangerous you believe he is, or how secure you want to be, moving locations is always an option.

Good luck,

briana 5 years ago

hi this is Briana from 5 months ago. My penpal relationship with the inamte is over. He was a user and liar, just as you said. He thought as long as he through around the love word, I would send him as much money as he wanted. He was playing on my desperation for love to get money. And when he got out he expected to move in with me just to have a place to crash cause he didn't like the rules of a homeless shelter. He said it was to much like a prison. He was no good. Plus he only wanted me to send him dirty pictures. I caved once and sent them, and now I don't only feel guilty, but scared they may be used against me in the future for blackmail! This guys creeps me out, and he gets out in a few months and I'm worried he may come looking for me, rather to hook up or rob me. What should I do? Move? Probably so.

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Terry B. Davis 5 years ago Author

snowhite, don't let him control you, I am sure his family knows what he is doing also. Good luck, and thanks for your comment.

snowhite59221 5 years ago from mass/md

you are so right. My ex husband is doing this now to this lady in england. she is sending him 300.00 a month paying for his phone call from over here to there. he tell her what she need to hear. He is still trying to get back with me every time he writes me it all about we need to stay married...I love his family but he drive me crazy..

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Terry B. Davis 5 years ago Author

Stephaine, thank you for your comment. Sorry you had such a bad experiance. Learn from it and continue with your life. Don't let him continue to interfere with your moving forward. Good luck, I wish you happynes.

Stephaine 5 years ago

This is truly my story.He was a childhood friend who knew me and my family. He truly played on me losing my mother and how he never had one. How he always thought about wondered what had happened to me. So he played my heart.I spent the last six years visiting,writing,phone calls,money and even marriage. His family never let him call home, very rare visits,and they sent no money. He expressed to me what a good mother a d wife I was and how happy we were going to be and how we were his family now. After two months and four days he walks out. I came home from work and his stuff was gone. He moved next door with his family who never had anything to do with him. Said we "couldn't get along". This all happened after my father told him he didn't need to rough house with me no verbal abuse that we needed to talk it out. He has made my life a living hell living less than 100 feet from me. Ladies please listen to what this gentleman has written because it is so true. I will never ever write nor talk to anyone in prison rather I know them or not.

Julia  5 years ago

This was perfect. A spot on description.. Thanks for writing.

Ms.Cook 5 years ago

Thank you for the advice! I encouraged my friend to call the facility’s investigative unit. She did. The investigative unit officer stated that the employee was no longer employed by the prison. The officer would not disclose any information regarding the former employee or the circumstances leading the employee’s termination of employment at the prison.

Whether the employee’s decision was to leave the prison was voluntary or not, I’m glad she is no longer working in a position of power. It’s obvious she was not mentally equipped to work in a prison environment.

Keep up the good work!

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Terry B. Davis 5 years ago Author

Ms. Cook, yes it is illegal as CO's are in a position of authority over inmates. You should contact the prisons Investigative Unit and give them what ever information you have to help identify the CO and inmate. If the Co is no longer employed there is nothing to be done.

I have seen about 10 cases where CO's began relationships with inmates. All but one turned out badly for the CO's. Usually loss of job and sometimes criminal charges. However, one did very well. The inmate got a job, they had two children and due to a work accident the inmate was killed. Of course this inmate did not have a long history of criminal activity or association. He also had a very supportive family and job skills. Hope this has answered your questions.

Ms.Cook 5 years ago

Mr. Davis,

I have friend who was corresponding with an inmate for about a year. He called her two days ago and told her that he wanted to be just friends. He told her, "I feel in love with a C.O and I'm going to move in with her."I was glad to hear my friend's relationship with an inmate was over. I don't know if the C.O is still employed by the prison. I was wondering is there any legal action my friend could take? And also, is it common for staff members to get involved with inmates? If so, what is the usual outcome (either legally or personally)?

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Terry B. Davis 5 years ago Author

When scanning mail certain phrases or codes are used. When that happens you read the letters. Once an inmate has used codes you have to read every letter to look for additional codes. Scanning a letter is akin to speed reading and your mind will automatically pick up the jest of the letter and its contents. You may want to re read or read my prior comments, I have never said that all inmates are this or that.Back to the mail issue, using your logic I guess our entire government is filled with scumbags. As far as your opinion that all correctional officers or most are less than honorable doesn't say much for a person that hangs out with convicts, so I would take that as a compliment.

Majority of contraband comes in thru visiting, then packages and then free staff (people that work or come to the prisons as private contractors or faith based workers that are not correctional officers)and yes bad Correctional Officers.

Donald 5 years ago

As someone who works with ex-offenders in a non-profit faith based organization, I am almost outraged at your article painting everyone with a broad brush. You should be totally ashamed of yourself for your article. I have been in institutions all over the country and I have researched institutional policies for years and with very few exceptions, prison policies state that they do not read inmate mail but only scan it for contraband or for incoming money for inmate accounts. Only the worst sort of scumbag sits around reading other peoples mail when it is against prison policy. On the other hand most CO's that I have met are less than honorable people also. How do you think most contraband gets into prisons.

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Terry B. Davis 5 years ago Author

Briana, The only way to know a 100% is when it becomes the past. You may be lucky and found that 1/10%, maybe not.

The only reason I posted this was so that people would be aware of the possibilities, and not blindly trust someone you don't really know. Even after my wife and I dated for three years before we got married, I found out a lot of things I didn't know, such as mustard left in the cabinate whereas I like it in the frige, also somethings that I thought were cute get old after awhile. Now I am sure she has more complainst about me than I do of her. But the story here is we had dailey contact with each other in person and still did not really know each other. So just writting to some one and visits every several weeks for 2 to 6 hours or so, there will be alot you don't know about eash other.

Your aware of his situation, your aware of the possibilities, its your decission and you and he will have to live with the results of those decissions.

I wish you luck and hope that you find what your looking for. Oh and please keep us advised as to how everything works out.


briana 5 years ago

I became a penpal to a prisoner last year. He said and done everything exactly as you described in your post. But isn't that just normal converation. You write them with inspiration send them a Card, they write back with a "homemade card" You ask them about prison life and they tell you. They like getting mail from the outside and they are thankful for it. Yes he sent me the poems and asked for stamp money, but I love getting mail from him and will gladly give him stamp money. He writes me every day, sometimes several times a day. Yes we exchanged pictures, everything you mentioned we have done. I ended up falling in love with him, as he has with me. We both wanted to here each others voice to make it more real, so yes I opened an phone account so we could talk. I wanted to do this for my own pleasure/satisfaction. How can I be scammed if that's what I want? He is getting out at the end of this year and I asked him to move in with me. I am helping him get copies of his Birth certificate and SS card. So that when he gets out he can find a job. He says he wants to marry me and he loves me, and I believe it. Yes people tells me he is using me as his meal ticket when he gets out. But I don't believe them, I feel God has put us together to help each other, yes I'm helping him but he is helping me too. I was lonely and wanted love and he is giving me that, and I can wait until the day we can be together forever. So you tell me am I delusional, or do I have the .01% honest guy, or what?

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Terry B. Davis 5 years ago Author

Nemo, thanks for your comment. I hope everything works out for you and your family.

nemo 5 years ago

thank you for this info. i just got out from doing a 6 month sentence and came home to find out my fiance of 6 years thinks she has feelings for a convict that i screwed up and put her on the phone with. I did it because I thought we were secure enough in our relationship that she could handle it. well, he betrayed my friendship and turned my girls head and could have possibly ruined our relationship. I put him on the phone to introduce him to her and after that call he told me how nice it must be to have someone on the outside to talk to. he had been down for seven years this time. Well me being the idiot I am told him if he needed someone to talk to call my girl because she was an easy person to talk to. I then asked her if it was ok and if I was putting her in a bad position by doing that and she said no. Well the next thing I know within three weeks they were talking regularly behind my back and writing each other. When I asked her if it was happening she lied at first and that is something she dosnt do. Then she told me the truth and said she had feelings for him. Within the first three weeks of them even knowing each other they were saying I love you and he was writing our kids, sent pictures of his kids and talking about marriage and how her and the kids were his family. I mean that alone takes a messed up and desperate individual to say those things so lightly. He knew exactly how to tell her what she needed to hear in a lonely time to feed her emotions. I feel terible for putting my girl and my life in jepordy by putting him on the phone with her but what happened should have not happened. Things are looking up for me and her but she still wants to write him and recieve the letters and calls because she is completly obliviouse to the truth and doesnt want to hear that she was a target and that she was wrong for falling for it. I wish she would understand the only way to fix it is to sever ties now and not drag it on any longer. She knows what she wants and what is right but she likes the feeling he gave her and she cant see that was the whole point. Thanks for your article it made me realize that im not crazy for telling her that she was just a target. I hope this never happens to anyone else because I wouldnt wish this pain on no one.

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Terry B. Davis 5 years ago Author

anonuk, There are very talented inmates. I have seen amazing art work done in black ink, using the letter Z, in a very good drawing. I also knew an inmate that did amazing work with wood, tile, and concrete. The only problem was he would do a job and as soon as he got his money, he was gone for several weeks using drugs. When the money and or drugs ran out he returned to work. Same as a mechanic who could fix anything, but again he liked meth, and believed it was alright for him to use, even after he stole his brothers idenity to supply his habit.Alot of those with skills do well in prison a controlled enviorment, but when released fall back into their old behavior. Over the years I have only seen a handful that actually changed. Most use their family, friends, any other person or group they can and as much public asistance as they can to support a baseline life style and then either use their skills or their criminal activity to get extra money for drugs, cars, girls or just fun.

Thanks for your point of view.

anonuk 5 years ago

Terry, have you considered it from the opposite point of view ? I get some amazing, free, original artwork for the cost of a couple of stamps :) We're not all as daft as the inmates would like to think ;)

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Terry B. Davis 5 years ago Author

donald, The christain Faith? What about getting the board out of your eye before you worry about the splinter in someone else's eye? What about judge not so that you shall not be judged? Just interesting how you use "Christain Faith" as a cover to show your intelligence, your faith, and your greater understanding. It seems that prists in Jesus' time did some of the same things.

As a Christain if you believe that someone is in error are you not suppose to approach them with Love and understanding? Why do I detect something else in your statements. Just one last item "Handbook almost say's" Are you referring to the bible? If so you may use it as a guide to live your life, not tell others how to live theirs. After all, I never saw anywhere in the bible where Christ scolded sinners. Minor exception when he ran the money changers from the temple.

If your writing is what you want to do then do it. You want to express your opinion or ideas, sounds great. But casting dispursions on others that you know nothing about, in an attempt to justify your actions, is not a christian thing to do. I believe that is called false witness.

Donald 5 years ago

In my opinion your posting only shows the prejudice and misinformation spread by typical corrections officers. In general a person is much more likely to be scammed by someone in e-mail or telemarketers than by postal mail from an inmate. Also anyone willing to be a pen pal with an inmate is probably more intelligent than you are in that they are aware of the potential risks. I have been writing to inmates for 15+ years and have only had one who even came close to trying to scam me. I personally think it is a shame that you post such nonsense. People should be encouraged to write to inmates, in fact the "handbook" for the Christian faith almost dictates that we do such things and that we are doing good work when we write to inmates. And most of the rest of us are smart enough to be cautious and prudent

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Timetotell 6 years ago from New York

Terry your article is the truth. All inmates do their time differently, but there are the select many, who are Sociopaths and they will use you up like dish water. Bad men and women exist in and out of prison. The advantage to dating a lying inmate is you have access to his criminal history. But, the con games that they play on people are sick and dangerous. They don't connect out of emotions, they connect out of need. When they don't need you anymore, they walk away and attach themselves to their next victim.

I don't know if you have seen these titles floating around in the California system, but, they do exceptionally well in Upstate, NY. The 48 Laws of Power and the Art of Seduction, written by Robert L. Green. Also, the Art of War, a pretty common title. But, Mr. Green's books are the survival guides to the con. If you get to the Library just to review them, you'll see the instruction/lesson on how to use people for your own benefit. These men take advantage of anyone that will let them. But, when it's done to them, they cannot handle it. I dated an ex-con from prison to my home and it was the saddest 5 years of my life. Living with him was awful. He wanted a woman to cook, clean and watch a movie, etc., but was sleeping with a former inmate buddy of his. So, I let him expose himself totally and now I'm writing my own story of dating a con. He still thinks he's fooling women that he's straight, but, none of his relationships last. He's using drugs and in between jobs after being home for almost 9yrs. So, I see his world is crumbling and it's a matter of time before he is back inside. He did 14yrs. for stabbing some one to death and running from the scene. So, he is definitely a con until the day he dies. He does have 1 adult child and 1 grandchild, but he never invited his child over to the house while he lived with me. He worked and helped with the bills, but it was all apart of the con, so that I would not evict him from my home. But, his luck ran out one morning when he came in from work. I had his things sitting out in the hallway. We still communicate, but, it's a game for me now because he thinks if he falls, I'll be there. He is so wrong, I'm dating and loving my life without the Jail Weight.

Thanks for letting me share.

Mandy 6 years ago

Ok thanks. I did check criminal records in the beginning of course, he did not lie about that. Mostly stupidity, and past is the past so can't hold that against him. The problem I think with inmates in general is that when they get into contact with a female this hunt begins and they adopt all the female likes. As in, they turn not in who they are but in who they want to be to gain you becoming your 'ideal man'. There is that moral aspect which I realize now just cannot be checked. Thanks anyway Terry.

Great article, and excellent that you respond on the questions. How unfortunately that most of the ladies find out they really did had to listen to their inner voice when they are already trapped into that spiderweb. Cause that's what it it. And no matter if something good does come out of it, because bad or good ending; it all begins with that spider in the web who just sits and waits till a fly comes by. Haha. Its what my friend calls the mermaid syndrom. The old fishermen in the past had not seen land in many months, years, and then they saw this sealion and thought it was a beautiful mermaid.

Best of luck to all, and Terry, much blessings!

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Terry B. Davis 6 years ago Author

Mandy most institutions will have at least one chaplin on staff and have those that come in at their own expense such as imans, and american indian guides. Usually, they will not give up any information unless the inmate has submitted a marriage request. At that time they will send you paperwork to fill out and will interview you to be sure that the inmate has told you about his criminal history.

There are a lot of different sources you have access to such as court records and if you know where he is from you can search the local news papers for articles with his name. You might try calling his counselor and talking with him/her, usually they will not give out a lot of information, but you never know.

If you don't have the time to do this yourself, you might consider hiring a private investigator, be sure they are properly licensed, and check to see if any complaints have been filed against them. For License info. go to California Bureau of Security and Investigative Service (If in California), and click on verify license for Private Investigator, and check the local better busines bureau. Ask for their referances and be sure to get a price for their services.

Dealing with inmates is something like dealing with arms control, trust but verify.

As far as him writing others females, the only way you would know is if he put the wrong letter in the wrong envelope.

Hope this has helped, oh if you don't know any PI's in the area that he lived you can contact and honest reliable PI and usually he would be able to find one he/she knows in the area. Also a PI can dig up other information that you can use to direct questions and then see if he tells you the truth. Good luck and just drop a note and let me and the other readers know what happenes.

Mandy 6 years ago

Sorry, I do have another question. How many chaplins does a prison have? Would the chaplin answer my questions if I sent him a letter? Since my lad says he is on great terms with him, I want to be sure that this is correct. Sorry Terry, for all these questions. But I just need to be sure I am not investing my best years in a scam.

Mandy 6 years ago

Dear Terry,

How does one check the lies? Isn't that impossible?

How can you check if he does write other females?

I thank you for giving this attention, the subject itself.

Hope you can answer my questions and thank you for your time. I just need to check facts but how.. ps I did ask his family about subjects I did not trust as well (which provide me answers I sought, I was right, he lied) as asking about to other inmates. But, the last one cannot be valid much either as most inmates lie having their own agenda. My fellow could be genuine, but I am suspicious of nature. And indeed, you must follow gut instincts. These are tiny lies that dont matter much, but I dislike lying and I said to myself that if I find out more lies, I just need to move on and not spend more time on this lad.

Thanks for responding Terry...

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Terry B. Davis 6 years ago Author

Rob, you appear to be one of the 2%. But take heart in this work enviorment you are not the only one doing day labor, many companies use these services as it is cheeper and does not carry all the medical/workcomp costs etc. The good news, as time and distance widens from your incarceration to your current work and family ethics more companies will view you by your recent work ethic and less from your prior history. Usually a small company is better as they tend to see you as a current worker that does a good job and works hard, as opposed to the liability of your past.

Keep up the good work, family, home and work has to remain your focus. As human beings it is difficulit to change what we are acustomed and comfortable with, don't let any douts are fears force you backwards.

I wish you and yours the best for the new year, and congradulate you for the great strides you have already made and for the greater things to come to you and your family in this upcomming year.

Rob 6 years ago

Unfortunately, as a former inmate I have seen this type of scam often. On the other hand I have also seen many of my former residents who were only lonely and wanting to find a connection to the outside with a possible future to go to. It is a sad fact that many of us end up right back, though most go back not on new charges but on violations of parole or probation. This just comes from not being prepared or able to live outside of a strict environment and the loss of hope after haveing so many doors slammed in our face due to our past. It is hard to make it if no one will give you a chance when applying for a job.

I have had a big struggle on the job front, I have a serious past to overcome. Fortunatly for me I came home to family that still accepted me, which helps a lot, and in the two years I have been out I have also found love. Not only that I have found acceptance from her family also, mainly because I have never been shy to tell people about my mistakes and misdeeds and the lessons I have learned from them.

On an individual level, almost everyone I have met has judged me as they find me right now, not my past. However, even if the person feels I am a decent person now, the public or company views and policies still deny me the opportunity for a regular job. I do my best working day labor for minimum wage, paying my taxes and trying to get a handle on the back child support that adds up while locked up and I remember that my worst day here is better than my best day there.

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Terry B. Davis 6 years ago Author

Mother of 3,

If an inmate is running a scam he/she will use anything and everything. Mothers feel good when someone they have a relationship with are liked by their children, this can be used to the advantage of an inmate. Depending on the age of the children there could be other things at work. In case your relationship fails they can continue with a child, or worse case, if your children are young the inmate maybe a preditor. Many will date, be froends, and start relationships with single women that have children and eventually will abuse those children.

As has been pointed out before, the inmate maybe serious and honest, but at what price if the inmate is not?

mother of 3 6 years ago

i have a these scammers in prison talk to your children to gain your trust?i have been talking to a man in prison for 4 months.he has asked me for phone card money 1 time.i did it.i have explained to him i do not have a lot of money.he still talks to me and has nw in the past few weeks started talking to my daughter on the telling you it takes a cruel man to use kids to run a scamso has anybody heard of inmates doing his?

Lektrikgrl 6 years ago

I'm a recent "excon". I hope that most of these posts are related to male inmates. Women's prisons are 180 degrees apart. I'm just sensitive to people corralling all people that have been locked up as being scammers, awful people, etc. I met my current partner while we were locked up together and we've been together almost 2 years. I've been out about a year, off parole, and enrolled in college. She has about 3 years left but I don't know what I'd do without her support. As far as convicts already having long rap sheets by the time they're locked up, I had no juvenile record and only minor traffic violations when I was sentenced to 18 months. 9 months in a DOC facility and 9 months on parole. For a first time, lowest level drug possession charge. A felony is a life sentence and not all of us are life long felons.

Anon 6 years ago

Writing to inmates and sending them money are two different things. If you go to any reputable inmate pen pal page one of the things they will tell you is that inmates are provided with all the basic necessities and you do not have to send them money. Scams will always be around - whether inmates or freeworld people.

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Terry B. Davis 6 years ago Author

Current CO,

As a CO you should know that part of the job requires that all out going mail be screened prior to being mailed. Now, with that said a majority of CO's that I had daily contact with failed to do this and would just look for items consealed in the mail and not scan the letters for messages and codes. The facilities that I worked in were level 3 & 4. The higest level in the State is 5 and those are in 24 hr lockdown status at pelican bay and a few other prisons.

Also, you may want to re-read the posts. I referred to inmates that write letters and ask for money and other items. I did point out that a majority of them that send items do not make them, they buy them from other inmates, pass them off as their own, as they do with poems and other things.

You are correct there are con artists on both sides of the wall, but based on a percentage I would make a guess that the odds are better that people on the inside of prisons (inmates) are running scams as opposed to the general population. Additionally, gangs here encourage scams to make money for the gang.

Lastly, you making a judgement on my personal beliefs, or my emotional state based on posts is just plain stupid.

If your are represenative of Correctional Officers in New York State I understand why their pay is so low.

Oh and just for your information, I have interviewed over 3,000 inmates for a min. of an hour each. Have reviewed over 2,000 recorded phone calls lasting on an average of 15 min. each. As a Correctional Officer I worked mainline units, lock-up units, protective housing units and was a hostage neog. I worked for three years as a Correctional Counselor reviewing 1,000's of inmate central files. These files contain all their legal information on commitment offenses, mental and physical health evaluations, court ordered evaluations, all documentation regarding their activities while confined in County/City jails and their confinment in Prison. Also their confidential files. Many of these files would fill a file box, it was part of my job to read each and every page in that file and set inmates custody level, housing, education/work assignments, and review for possible enemy situations as well as for gang association/membership. I was also a Correctional Lt. before going out to work as a parole agent. As a parole agent I listended to hundreds of phone calls, talked with hundreds of parents, relatives, friends, and neighbors of inmates on parole and with the parolee themselves. I have worked with all State and Federal law enforcement agencies, with the exception of the DEA.

The whole idea of these posts are to wake up those good people who get caught in these inmate scams. It is hard for them to see the scam because they are good trusting people and they themselves do not think that way. When dealing with inmates you must be suspicious. Not all inmates are running scams, but to reduce your risk of being a victim you must have knowlege on how and what some of the scams are. I just talked with a lady the other day, she met her fiancee while he was in prison. He got out and lived with her for several months. He decided to make a trip back to the mid-west to pick-up his brother who was to be the best man ant the wedding. He took her car, cash, jewelary and some other small items, never to be seen again. Since she had given him permission to use her vehicle police would not take a stolen vehicle report, and the case was a civil matter. When people move from State to State to avoid civil matters the expense of getting judgements in other states and then collecting are slim to none. If I have a civil judgement against a person and they move to Neveda, I have to take the California judgement to the court in Neveda and file it there and have the Neveda court issue a judgement based on the judgement from the California court. It is easy to see why few will continue to lose money chasing someone all over the county. The cost out weighs the rewards.

Thank you for your comment current co, I appriciate your point of view.

CURRENT CO 6 years ago

As a current CO at a correctional facility in New York State I am quite taken aback by your assumptions. First, like one poster mentioned if you had all this time to read every single letter, listen to phone calls and pay attention to what the inmates were saying when did you have time to do your job?

It's quiet apparent from your post that you have nothing but disdain for inmates, so why work in a setting that puts you in contact with them every day?

I'm also confused on why you feel the need to tell people that if an inmate is writing them letters and sending them items that they're being scammed. Most do not have the money to purchase items so they'll make them to show their appreciation for their friendship or love.

Yes, there are PEOPLE that are con artists -- but those people are both inside AND outside prison walls.

From the perspective of another CO I find that you are filled with bias, anger and you have unjustly lumped 99.9% of all inmates into the same category. Now who's running a scam??? Shame on YOU!

Crissy 6 years ago

Why on EARTH would anyone want to start a relationship with anyone who is already in prison??? They need help.

only me 6 years ago

ok so i have read all of this and have to say i agree with the lady who said this is utter garbage and is based on only one person...dont get me wrong i do believe this does go on but not from everyone and not everyone is in prison for conning people.

If anyone has any doubts just dont send money...simple. i write to a guy and yes we are more than friends,he has told me about scams ect and he is proud to say he has never asked me for a thing but to be honest i wouldnt send him anything, he managed before i came on the scene. To be honest i dont get it, just be strong and dont let yourself be put into this position.

Anonymous 6 years ago

I met a man who was incarcerated through a family friend who was locked up with him. He hand wrote a letter to me. I did not answer it for a year. When I did he hand wrote the same exact letter and sent it to me. He would call me from a cell phone then demand that I send him money to put more time on the cell phone. I refused and he blew up. He did ask me to send money, stamps, etc. I told him no. He even asked if he could parole to my home. I told him no. He asked if I could pick him up when he got released then told me what he would do to me sexually immediately after he met me and I told him absolutely not. Finally, I told him that if what he was saying was true then when he got released he would use his own money and find his own way to meet up with me. I quit talking his calls and answering his letters after that. After he got released I never heard from him again.

Barbara 6 years ago

I was in jail myself years ago and became friends with another woman there. I was released and she was later moved to prison but we wrote letters back and forth. She entrusted me with some money of hers saying she did not want others knowing she had so much as it could cause problems for her. She sent I think 100 dollars for me to hold and would ask for me to send it back parts at a time. As she was about to be released she asked if she could live with me as she did not want to go to a half way house. I agreed as she had somehow made me trust her, after all she had trusted me with her money. Well I left over night after about 2 weeks and was robbed blind. Money, jewelery, TV, stereo, food stamps, gun, and other misc stuff. I learned that that is a way cons have of making you trust them is to first show that they trust you with something of value to them, and I would say that money is very valuable in prison.

Not long after this happened I saw her name in the paper for robbing a lady of her purse and other belongings when she answered her doorbell to her. Sad shame. I did my part to help her but she was not ready for help in the way I was offering it only a stepping stone for more jail time.

missoctober 6 years ago

Thanks for that....

Terry B. Davis profile image

Terry B. Davis 6 years ago Author


Usually their first sevral letters or over several months are just getting to know you. They will learn information about you, your likes and dislikes, family, children etc.. This is no different then any other pen pal. They will also tell you something about themselves, some will deny their crimes and have a story about how they were set-up, or that they were actually doing the right thing but our justice system is slanted. Some will admit their crime and life style and then tell you about their change, they have learned and changed their ways. Watch out for when they start asking for money for stamps, envelopes, to buy food items, or to have you send in a package for them or a friend. Any stories about they have to pay someone money for what ever reason. If they want to have you do something for them, forward a letter to a friend, brother, sister or relative. They may want to call you, they may have someone do a three-way call for them, or they may ask you to do a 3-way call for them. They will send you very nice, handmade cards and/or pictures, or trinkets made from paper, picture frames, jewelery boxes, baby shoes etc..

These should send up warning signs, but nothing is 100%, usually most victims had that little voice in the back of their head telling them something was wrong, but they dismissed it as just judging someone because of their current situations, and believing their words over their actions. All relationships have most of these same elements, and in normal life you run the risk of being used, but the odds are a lot higher when dealing with prisoners. Also watch for the guilt trip, and the lines of how dangerous and soul killing prison is and how they fear for their lives every min. of every day etc..

Bottom line, everything we do is a risk, is the risk worth the reward? Only you can make that determination. I just try and give people information to consider, just like scams on the internet, if it seems to good to be true it's more than likely is a scam, yet millions of people get scammed ever year.

Good luck

MISSOCTOBER 6 years ago

Hello,,,this is very intereting. So if you say had a top 5 or top 10 of things to look out for - if an inmate pen pal is less that sincere what would your top 5 or 10 be? OR alternatively if you had a top 5 or 10 of what makes an inmate pen pal genuine and sincere what would that be? I am writing someone - it is early stages... but I would be interested to hear of your top 5 or 10 :0) Thanks

OMG  6 years ago

It sounds to me that you are a little nosy. When did you have time to actually work with listening to so many phone calls, reading so much mail and have time to stand around and listen to the inmates talk? It sounds to me that have issues with eves dropping, myself.

I have, also, in my life learned if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it must be a duck. There is one thing I will not discredit you for and that is being an Ex Correctional Officer. You spelled that out for me in your first sentence of your reply to me.

Where is my comment to you about YOU living with an inmate? I didn't say that. I said and I quote "you actually don't want to think they have a better chance of making a life with a stranger than you do with living with one in your home." That means they have just as much chance of making it with a stranger as you do making it with moving a stranger into your home. It goes with another statement I made in my response to this sad, uneducated, and one sided story about games inmates play.

Yes, it is illegal for a worker of a prison to get involved with an inmate. However, unless it can be proven that they have had sex, or brought in contraband there is not an arrest. It is not against the law to fall in love, and Mr. Davis, that is more likely to happen than an inmate scamming a perfect stranger. So, are you telling me, that a guard, nurse, warden's secretary, whatever, has never fallen in love with an inmate within the prison you worked? If that's what you believe, I bet a little research would prove you wrong.

You are basing your opinion one one man. That's what your little article was about, ONE man! There are over two million people in prison. Unless you can show me some numbers that say this is the truth that has been scientifically complied, I am going to take your article as everyone else should, a one sided, bias, piece of garbage.

I don't care how you come back and try to explain to me how you come to that number. Until you can prove to me you are right, then as I said....

Oh and just so you know Mr. Davis, I have spent years around prisons myself and I have never been an inmate. However, I know enough to know what you are saying is wrong! I didn't, well couldn't, visit my own brother because of my job, so take that as you want it...

I was never feeling badly, but thanks for well wishes! I hope you get that chip off your shoulder, remember the inmates didn't come to you and say, Mr Davis can you come work at the prison so you can become a bitter man that has nothing better to do but put us down when you leave after your 25 years service. You have a good day Mr. Davis.

Terry B. Davis profile image

Terry B. Davis 6 years ago Author

OMG, I am glade that your one experiance worked out well. Information is based on my 25 years in the prison system, and yes inmates do like to brag about their scams. I have also listened to phone calls, over 2,000 and heard their scams, not to mention the over heard conversations when they are talking amoung them selves.

As far as reading mail, that is part of the job, they do have codes in the mail, they do run scams, but you based on one incident and you are the expert. If you know the population of the prison system, and take .01 percent it is a higher number than 1. Also i had seen one marriage that had worked, out of the hundreds that did not and the 100s of scams that these guys run.

You are correct in this aspect, I have learned that if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, it is more than likely a duck.

Your comment about living with an inmate? First it is illegal for employees to engage in personal relationships with inmates or their relatives, kinda a conflict of interest. With that aside, I have met a few that I would have no problem with them living next door to me, but again 99.9% I would not.

I hope your feeling better.

OMG 6 years ago

Talk about stereotyping people! It's unreal that someone thinks an inmate would sit and tell them about their scam. To me you may have noticed a pattern, but what I noticed is this inmate caught your attention and you read his letters. Did you find any code of violence in them? If not why did you feel you had the right to read his personal mail? Is it because he is an inmate and you worked there?

Scams can be done out of prison just as quick as it can be done from behind bars. Ask the women who have lost everything to a man they moved in with.

All inmates are bad to you, huh? My brother found a woman in prison, been married and has a baby and works full time at a great your 99.9% is wrong. He is also in CA and went to prison there.

Speaking of your 99.9% where did you get that number? Was there money spent on research for you to place such a number on something?

In my opinion, 99.9% of the people that work for the prisons and formerly work for the prisons has issues with inmates, you actually don't want to think they have a better chance of making a life with a stranger than you do with living with one in your home.

This type of story makes me sick!

Terry B. Davis profile image

Terry B. Davis 6 years ago Author

Symbiotic relationships mean they both share in the continued relationship. With that said, usually the inmate ends up taking advantage and ends up either hurting the other emotionally or physically (loss of money/property).

People in general tend to project their emotions, and feelings onto people and animals, and fail to see what is really going on. In your case of the old man and young women, they are both aware of what the relationship is and its cost. A majority of the ones I have seen, are not built on shared mutual understanding. The inmate see a weakness in the person and expolites it for his benifit. Knowing that he is using the person for his benifit w/o any committment. While the victim believes the relationship is built on something else and sees it as a long term relationship and a long term committment.

Regarding the nuts that want a relationship with life term murders want something else, the inmate has nothing to lose and the other is safe as he will never get out.

The intent is what must be judged and that is not always apparent.

Angel 6 years ago

Years ago there was a show on the Biography channel about a thirty-year old woman who was in prison for aggravated murder. The show concentrated on her parole board hearing and a man she had milked for many thousands of dollars. It turns out that he was not the first and he certainly was not the last. On the show, she was asked by the parole board, “What kind of women places an ad on a website called, ‘Jailbabes’?” She responded, “What kind of man goes on a website called 'Jailbabes' to find someone with a personality he likes?”

She had a point.

There are predators on both sides of the fence. Many people come to the table bringing nothing but insecurities, neediness and cash - and they get played by people who might not play someone who came bringing nothing but genuine friendship and sincerity to the table. It's easy to see when it's the sixty-five year old millionaire that is engaged to a cute little lifer half his age - she's using him for money and he's using her to feel good about himself... but just because it's not always that transparent doesn't mean it's not mutually self-serving.

What I am saying is that often these relationships aren't parasitical - they're symbiotic and upon close observation and reflection (which I figure we should do if we are going to judge the behavior) it's often difficult to judge who is the victim and who's the perpetrator. Usually the participants take turns fulfilling each role.

Terry B. Davis profile image

Terry B. Davis 6 years ago Author

Big Mouth,

There is nothing wrong with pointing out your views to others. However, in your case it would more than likely be best to give them websites to go to and look up information for themselves. I would also have them call the prison and check and make sure if the prison requires inmates/families to pay for needed surgerys. In California if it is a needed surgery the state pays for it, unless the inmate requests a certain doctor or hospital then they may require the inmate to pay, or if the inmate wants surgery that is not required.

Just an after thought, many times family knows its a scam but want to hear it from others so they can blame them when the inmate finds out and becomes angry. Just tell them to call the prison officals and see if she is telling the truth about the family being required to pay, and give her direction of where to look for information. Its the same as money scams, if it seems very very unlikely, its more than likely a scam.

Good luck

Big Mouth 6 years ago

An elderly neighbor confided that her grand daughter was in jail. It was the second time she'd mentioned it in recent months. I'm new in the neighborhood and I suppose the sweet old widow just needed to talk with someone. So, I listened. After she told her story of her grand daughters request for money ($350.00) to cover a surgery (something concerning her ovaries) I thought I detected suspicion from my neighbor. So, being a big mouth I shared some of what I've read over the years about inmate scams. I seemed to confirm her suspicions, but now my neighbor seems preoccupied with this situation whenever we talk. She wants more information about scams. I've noticed she seemed defensive last time she brought up her grand daughter. And I wish I'd just kept my mouth shut months ago when she first brought up her grand daughter. The life people live before prison is hard and then once in prison its harder. I imagine. Newspaper, magazines, books, TV and now the internet...this is all I really know of prison. I tried once to apologize to my neighbor for opening my mouth and concluded that it was none of my business and that her grand daughter would naturally need her families support. My neighbor acted like she didn't want to hear any of that. In fact, she wanted me to provide articles, information and material on inmate scams. Here it is...I have no intention of becoming a wedge with which to separate herself from her grand daughter or her daughter (the inmates mother.) Ordinarily I accept the responsibility of my big mouth because I'm in familiar territory i.e. sports, bad relationships, continuing education, etc. This time however, I feel like I've put myself out on a limb...another persons safety, well-being is at stake. Firstly the grand daughter trying to survive her environment, secondly the mother and finally my neighbor the grandmother who wants to do the right thing but doesn't trust her grand daughter. I'd like your advice. Should I provide my neighbor with article upon article about inmate scams? Should I tell her next time she mentions her grand daughter that she should go online and see what she can discover herself? Or should I repeat my apology that I have a big mouth and shouldn't meddle in other families business? Thanks for your time. I appreciate any response.

Big Mouth

Terry B. Davis profile image

Terry B. Davis 6 years ago Author

wesleys mom,

It is difficult to say exactly what they are referring to. If they have a history together they can be referring to a particular incident or something they shared in common. They could be referring to money, drugs or having someone bring something in to the prison, or sending packages to another inmate. It also could be a type of black mail, if you don't do something your son could get hurt. At first they may ask you to do something that is very minor or at least appears that way and then try and have you do more and more until your in to deep to get out of it.

You might try calling and talking to his counselor, see how he is doing, if he has gotten into any trouble, or any write-ups for violating prison rules.

Also, this individual might have been housed with your son or knew someone that was and got your address and decided to see if he could get you to send in money or some other thing. Don't answer the letter and see if he continues to write or not. If he does write again, write back a letter and only say you do not accept letters from people you do not know, and keep a copy of the letter, if he writes agin don't open it and write on the outside "RETURN TO SENDER" with your address crossed out. If after that he writes again, call the prison and talk with his counselor, keep his name, prison number and housing, and who ever you talk with tell them you do not want that inmate writting to you. If there are any threats or extortion in letters keep copies of them and notify the priosn officals that you are receiving threatening or extortion letters. If the prison doesn't react, call and talk with your local law enforcement, file a report and see if they will prosecute. Your son may or may not be aware of the letters, and it is possible that they are using him to get what they want.

I hope this is helpful, please keep me posted on what happenes.

wesleys mom 6 years ago

i got a letter from someone in prison with my son saying they were like bothers,and trouble seems to attact to my son.since everyone knows how cool they are,the trouble my son gets into always falls on him.this is prison and your son says you are kind of you should know the general direction this is going. my question is i am not hip and i dont know what he means by the general direction this is going means.i think maybe money but not for sure.any help i would be sooo thankful.

Terry B. Davis profile image

Terry B. Davis 6 years ago Author


Depending on the State he is in they have different rules. Usually, prior to a marriage, a clergy member that works for the State will interview you and be sure that you are aware of the inmates commitment offense, and that you know what your doing and are not being forced.

If you wish to cut off all communications, usually a call or a letter to the prison officials in charge of your inmates case telling them that you do not want to recieve mail from this inmate. They in turn would tell him not to write or contact you, if he continues, send the prison a copy of the letter and the envelope and again tell them that he is harrassing you and you want it to stop. They should then begin giving him write-ups if he continues. However, check with your local post office and see if you can block mail comming from the prison, or when you get a letter, write on it return to sender, and return it to the post office. He may have others outside the prison either write you or remail his letters using their addresses, do the same as above, don't open them just return to sender. Do not accept phone calls from the prison or from numbers you do not know. Many times they will call a person and have them forward or 3-way their call to you. If your recieve a three way call, write down the date and time of the call and the number it came from. Either send it to the prison officials in a letter explaining you do not want contact and that he is circumventing the prison phone call system and are harrassing you.

Depending on the inmate, he may just stop and move on. He may try to talk with you for a while to get you to change your mind, or he may become angry and try to get revenge. Be aware of your neighborhood, vehicles and people in the area.

It is better to get out of it as fast as you can, and as easy as possible. Write him a Dear John letter, and stop all communication afterwards.

Good luck, better to find out now than when your married and he assumes legal rights of what you have. Let us know how it goes.

ceray 6 years ago

I too like so many before me fallen for the silver tongue of a charming inmate who has told me all his pretty lies. I was writing to him for about 18 months before I visited him. It was only after I wrote a particularly personal letter of emotional connection that I felt that he swooped on me and told me of the commisssary that he can ill afford. I gave money. ANd not easily as I dont live in the US. I have done this a few times now. He wants really strong porn. I sent some it was returned me and I was greatly embarrassed and refuse to do it again. He insists it will get through. I know it wont. When I finally visited him he found it difficult to talk abou anything else other than his innocence and how he wanted my help in getting him out. He has inundated me with paper work that I dont understand and cant do anything about as I work hard at my job and have several kids that I am responsible for. I got swept up in the moment and agreed to marry this person who I think is purely using me to his advantage. I refuse to be his benefactor any longer as it is humiliating that I, a supposedly mature intelligent (now thats doubtful) adult fell for this rubbish. All women like pretty words, but no one has said them to me before so it didnt ring true or sit easy with me. The dickhead. How do I get out of this? I dont want to marry him anymore as I would have to pay for everything as usual, the ring, the wedding licence, and what ever bloody not THAT desperate....I like being independent, and his dependency on me rankles.....please advise ..

April 6 years ago

Thanks for your honest and quick response Mr. Davis! I will definately be informing you.

Terry B. Davis profile image

Terry B. Davis 6 years ago Author

Stacy, thank you for your comment. Now to your question, it is difficult if not impossible to know exactly what anyone is really thinking. Gang members are trained to read people, manipulate them and take advantage. first signal, children by more than one spouse, or babies mommas. I am sure he told them the same things he is telling you. The best way I know to find out is to set requirements for him to meet. When he gets out he will be on parole, and needs a clean residence to claim as his residence of record. Set rules, 1. must get and maintain a residence of his own and a job for a period of one year. Must remain drug free, alcohol free and parole violation free for that year and then you can talk of getting married. If its work, home and family for one year it would appear that he is trying to go straight. However, if he fails do not give him second chances, be tuff, say what you mean and mean what you say. I have seen too many guys after 30, 60, 90 days and up to 6months do well and then start gaiming and running with old friends, old places and other women. He maybe using the babies mamas as a cruch, talk with them, find out if he is spending the night, and if he is really with the kids or with her. Don't let your wants cloud what your eyes, ears, and mind tell you.

Bottom line, make him earn your heart, tell him up front that you will be watching, and questioning everything. If he doen't agree to this, odds are he is using you and when he has used you, he will find either a new one or go back to an old one that he can use and control.

Good luck, let me know how it goes.

April 6 years ago

Thanks for your article.It is so true about the scams they will do. I think I might be going through a scam myself. Let me know if I am just being paranoid. This is a guy I knew from school days, Im talking since were were 6 years old. I had a major crush on him in the 6th grade and when he found out he became a bully to me. He and his family moved away after the 8th grade.

30 years later, I got in contact with his brother on FB and I found out he was in prison. By that time he had 5 kids by 2 different women. He then started to say that he was so sorry for being mean to me in school but that he did not know how to show me that he like me. And that I am the girl that he has wanted all his life and when he comes out he will find me, sweep me off my feet, and marry me.

He told me he was living with his second kids mother when he was sent to prison. He told me it is over between them and he only has contacts with the kids. But on FB her status it states engaged and she sports a ring. I asked him about that he said he knows she is messing with other men. And since they don't communicate he is not sure who she is engaged to. I honestly dont believe him. But then again she has no pics of him nor does she mention his name.

We (me, him, and his kids mothers) come from a very small town and we all know the same people. I did not know untill recently that we( me, him, his kids mothers) all now moved to the same state that all of us live in the same county!

So ontop of that he also has asked me for money and I have sent it. We have declared our love for each other and have been discussing planning our wedding. At times I will question his motives and he will say wait untill he comes out and he will show me. He swears he is not using me nor trying to get over on me and I am just being paranoid.

It has been two occasions that I have asked for him to send every penny I sent him back because I feel as though I am just another pawn in his game and he did agree to do it but I will then change my mind. He will then regret that he even asked me.

My question is since we had history and know each other for so long including the same circle of friends does this guy sincerly want to be with me when he comes out or I am just there because his current girl does not want to be bothered right now? I am so confused because he has shown me so much love but then can it just be prison talk just to get by.

I need a male's point of view on this. I love him so much but I am afriad of getting devastated. Even though he said there will be no drama between me and her.

Terry B. Davis profile image

Terry B. Davis 6 years ago Author


You are more than welcome. I hope everything worked out good for you. Take care and be safe.

stacey 6 years ago

Hi Terry. Thanks for your reply. I realize it was two months ago that I emailed you, but I was looking things up again and ran across your website (again). I immediately remembered that I had posted a question on here. You seem to be a genuinely caring person. I appreciate your response.

Vera 6 years ago

I read your article and I find your findings to be very accurate. Many of these women are lonely as the inmates they write to. The difference is the writer is lonely longing for love and inmate is lonely longing for individual attention not the same type of longing. Case in point, facilities were animals are permitted to be trained by inmates or some adopted stray cat or bird in the prison yard. Often the inmates who take towards these animals will quickly confess how they were never animal lovers before, or a particular animal lets say cats or a dog was ever their type of fancy. The animal gives out conditional love by way of undivided attention to the inmate and that attention is what they longed for.

The difference between dogs/cats and human beings are obvious of course, but one notable difference are the human beings are able to express their wants.

Terry B. Davis profile image

Terry B. Davis 6 years ago Author


In prison and for protection all inmates associate with groups. Most people think of gangs, but they can also associate with each other by race, and alsmost any other factor that is used to seperate people. I have seen inmates run scams on everyone from family, to those of faith and everyone in between. They may have a debt they owe from drugs to sex, or that someone helped them out and they owe him. I have had family members call, worried about their child, brother, husband, uncle or cousin or any relation you can think of. Their loved one told them they had to send money or they would be killed, and other such scams. They'll ask for a food or care package be sent to them, or they will give another inmates info to have it sent to the other inmate. They have convienced girlfriends, wives and loved ones to try and smuggle in drugs, money, cell phones and anything tht has value.

If an inmate is considred weak, they will take everything he has, until he does not have anything more, then he will either have to submit to sex or be assaulted. The possibilities are endless. Also he may have been told that he has to do something, usually assault another inmate as a test of his loyality to the group, if he refuses then he will be the victim.

Many of the first things they will ask for are very minor, help them make a 3 way call, have you call a friends family member for them, forward a letter to someone, give someone a ride to visit another inmate when you visit yours. Some times several people may be involved with the scam except you , the victim.

Best bet stay away, if they get out of prison, stay out of trouble, complete parole, don't hang out in the old places and with the old people, have a steady job and support themselves, they may have changed. Additionally, with few exceptions by the time they go to prison, they have a long juv. and adult record, and as their criminal activity progresses so does the violence involved in their crimes.

I wish you luck, and take care.

Stacey 6 years ago

I have been reading this same con game over and over in many places. It is all over the internet and in books. I realize that some people will con others to get money or sex, etc. I am currently with a man in prison (did not meet through pen pal and it was an unexpected situation). I have a masters degree, but what does that mean?

We've known each other for 8 months now. He has never asked me for money. On my own, I have sent him a couple of books. I did buy one thing for him, but he told me I did not have to buy things for him. He calls me three times a week. I guess I could go on and on. I was not familiar with all of the con games until he and I started getting into a deeper emotional relationship and I started looking things up. Prior to reading about all the games, I believed everything he said to me. We had already gotten to know each other for six months (face to face - I am not a C.O.) and my feelings were really getting strong. I felt in my heart that he was being honest. Everything we did was in a natural progressive way (nothing was ever forced there was no obvious manipulation like other men displayed toward me in prison and out and he never purposely did anything to make himself stand out, it just happened).

I have been in past relationships where, on the outside, everything looked fine, but in my heart I knew something wasn't right. These are with men who are not in prison (nor were they ex-cons). In the end my intuition (or my guy) was right. My gut has never told me something was wrong between the guy I am involved with now (as far as "we" are concerned).

It was only until I started reading all of this stuff on games, that I started getting really worried and paranoid and then overly emotional about what he might be doing behind my back. That is when things started going bad for us (because of all these bad things written about men in prison and it made me start questioning him and being too emotional with him). I have talked with him about all of it. Obviously he has assured me he is not playing games with me. What else can he do?

Now we are at an impasse for other reasons and he has to make some important decisions for us (hard ones). What I am more interested in is what is prison like for the men inside in terms of other inmates putting pressure on them to do things that are not alright to do. At this time this seems to be why we are at an impasse. He hasn't fully disclosed anything to me, because he can't. He has just made a brief comment, one night during an argument we were having about what the hell is going on with him lately. After much intensity and an hour of calls, he briefly (and somewhat angrily) made mention to something going on. He told me that prison is different than being on the outside and sometimes there are things that he has to do that he doesn't want to do.

I am not completely ignorant of these things and I realize the array of possibilities of what he might be talking about. What ever it is that is going on is taking a few months to play out. I would like to know more about what types of things might he be talking about. Again, I realize most of what he could be talking about in terms of certain activities that inmates do inside (along with possibly people from the outside), etc. But, what I am getting at, is what kind of pressure and games do inmates play on other inmates? Any insight into this would be great. Thanks.

Anon-y-mous 6 years ago

Mr. Davis,

I work for CDCR in health care and you are right on with your article! I had an inmate porter telling me how pretty and nice I was on a daily basis. I acted nicely towards him until he started telling me how he had fallen for me and wanted to marry me some day and by the way, could I bring him some pot or maybe a cell phone...yeah right!!

I can only imagine the type of letters that get sent out to women who actually believe the BS!

Terry B. Davis profile image

Terry B. Davis 6 years ago Author


Thank you for your comments. Just to correct you. In California prisons inmates who do not have funds are given 20 posted envelopes a month. They can buy stamps and envelopes at any time, in a canteen that is open at least 6 days a week. They have access to computers and typewritters if they want it.

My story is not based on one individual, but from many. Here in California, most people have more than one car, at least a majority of the well to do.

Just for your information, I am not an English major, or a teacher. My typing, spelling, etc. is not perfect.

We can disagree regarding the subject matter, but from your writing I would say that you have a problem with men in general. It may help you to evaluate the kind of men you become involved with as opposed to listing all men as animals.

Good luck to you.

Danette 6 years ago

Within the last few months I have struck up a pen pal relationship with an inmate 15 years my junior. Yes, I'm lonely -- my second husband died 2 1/2 years ago; I don't have any kids or family of my own. I've always had military pen pals, but since 9/11 it's impossible to get connected. I'm also a college professor -- teach literature and composition. I chose to write to an inmate based on the research on recidivism, and that those inmates who are lost in the system benefit greatly from a friend on the outside.

I have read through "The Game's (sic) That Inmates Play" and I'm struck by some comments that make inmates in general appear unfairly devious. First the comment that "these letters were hand written (sic)" -- all letters by inmates are handwritten as very few inmates have access to a typewriter or computer, and their access to paper and stamps may be limited (and tightly controlled), depending on where they are incarcerated. It is true that many inmates do not have any family or friends to correspond with on a regular basis, especially if they are serving a lengthy sentence -- what is devious about this? It is also not unreasonable for an inmate to tell a pen pal about the reason he is in prison -- it seems no different a dance than any pen pal relationship; he tells me why he's on the inside, I tell him what I do on the outside -- what is devious about this exchange of information?

The young man I have been writing to for the past several months has never once asked me for money. Yes, we have exchanged photos, but I've also exchanged photos with my military pen pals -- it's a normal curiosity to want to have a visual image of the person with whom letters are being exchanged.

So the guy tells the woman "how beautiful her heart is" and that they are "kindred spirits" and that "she is the princess that he could only dream of being with." This could be a Saturday night at any dance club! Men can be pigs -- they don't have to be behind bars to try and work a scam on a lonely, desperate woman!

What I don't understand about the scammer your article profiles and the divorced woman in the upscale, affluent neighborhood who took him in after he paroled is how she "returned home from shopping one day to find her car gone . . ." -- if she was out shopping, how was it that her car was still at home for him to take with him when he left? BTW, you don't have to have been dating an ex-con to find cash, credit cards and jewelry missing . . .

Seems to me the risks of being involved with an inmate are no different than the risks of dating in the general public -- the possibility that he's got more than one woman in his life, while simultaneously telling me that I'm "the only one," the possibility that he'll suck me in emotionally and then drop me like a hot potato, the possibility that I'll put six months into the relationship before I discover that he's lied about the status of his divorce (they're really still married and he's never filed) or the amount of debt he's in or the animosity he still harbors with his ex-wife and how it spills into and poisons our relationship -- the only difference between the cons who have done time and the "cons" who haven't is that it's not a felony to use, abuse, and break a woman's heart. The "Games that Inmates Play" is really no different than the games that MEN play, whether inmate, parolee, or just the "average" guy who's never been in trouble with the law in his life. Getting "involved" in any new relationship is always a risk. Any woman that runs willy nilly into ANY relationship is just plain stupid. At least with a guy who's done time it's easier to check on his past sins than it is to figure out what's really going on in the life of the guy in the suit and tie, with the house in Newport Beach, the fancy car and the platinum credit card.

Finally, I'm struck by the errors in grammar, vocabulary and punctuation in your epistle (e.g., "to put his inter-most (sic) thought's (sic) and feeling's (sic), that he cannot share with anyone but them (sic)") and the comment posted by "Educated Food," who claims to have her Master's degree . . . the ONLY person who on this thread who has an educated, articulate command of English is Brian, the "three-time ex-con" from Colorado!

BTW, (sic) inside a quote indicates that I am quoting exactly what was written, and that the grammatical and spelling errors are not mine, but the errors of the person whose writing I am quoting. So, your sentence should have read: ". . . to put his innermost thoughts and feelings on paper, feelings and thoughts that he cannot share with anyone but her."

Brian (Colorado DOC) 6 years ago

I am a three-time ex-con. I have never run a game on someone like that. Despicable, preying on trust and kindness. That is how people stop caring for one another. That is also a part of the reason that people will not give jobs to ex-cons.

Ultimately, it is unlawful to prevent communication between people unless there is darn good reason. (Remember, right to free speech.) If we (convicts) are to be bound by laws, so must anyone else. (Equal protection, remember?) Make no mistake, prison is binding. Also, the Constitution is NOT in place to protect criminals, but citizens. Criminals are citizens, as well, whether the rest of society likes it or not.

I remember reading that our judicial system was built the way it was because "It is better to let ten guilty men go free than to let one innocent man hang.". Is our judicial system to drop the ball again, and forget that, as well?

Remember, convicts are not bound by an oath to uphold the Constitution. Presidents, congressmen, senators, police, corrections officers, etc. are. Remember your oaths, and at least you will be in the right. I cannot say that about the numerous officers I have seen watch rapes, take bribes, beat inmates, smuggle drugs, and a myriad of other things. All the while, telling one another that they are honest, decent men and women. Pfft. I knew 3 guards in Sterling Correctional Facility that would pass for decent human beings, and one of them later turned out to be a boy-lover. Again, pfft. At least we thin out the pedophiles and such.

Terry B. Davis profile image

Terry B. Davis 6 years ago Author

Educated, Thank you for your responce, I hope people see it and learn from it rather than their mistakes.

Here in California prisons it is impossible to get the state to stop giving inmates their paperwork that are used by other inmates to check them out. The fix was easy and simple, let the inmates read it, and than either sign it agreeing or sign that they disagree and why. Problem solved, but they (the state) refused it. Majority of drugs, and unlawful communications comes thru visiting. This is common knowlege and the state refuses to go to non contact or no visiting. Again the state is looks at the inmates rights, not the citizens. Currently California will be releaseing inmates on a non return to custody parole. Basically there will be no parole agent contact. However, parolees will waive their rights to search and the police can do that. With cuts in law enforcement, police will not have the time to search parolees residences unless they are involved in serious crime. The state wants to reduce state cost, which will result in an increase in victims, and cost to local law enforcement and courts and jails to prosecute new crimes that a parolee agent might have stopped before it happened. Oh well, we have to educate ourselves, keep our eyes open, and protect what is ours.

Sorry, you got me going, again thanks for your response.

Educated Fool 6 years ago

Your article reflects reality. I am a victim of a long term scam. There should be laws to protect people on the outside from people who are in prison. The reality is, we are out of our element when dealing with con artists and individuals with long criminal histories. They are experts at reading people and seek out the vulnerable. I am embarrassed to admit even a Master's degree did not make a bit of difference in my case. They study people and learn how to play them. I am angry that people in prison have the freedom to call people from 8 am to 11 pm...and to write to unsuspecting people on the outside.

In my case, I would not have experienced the trauma and losses if the communication did not happen. My advice to people who have family in prison is -- cut your ties. As for people meet people in prison??? Get help. They will destroy your life. I think back to the "visiting" lines as the buses unload in front of the prison...women with small children, some who may have ben on a bus over night from NY City to update NY. Sad but true.

The fact is, people in prison are there for a reason. This statement used to fall on deaf ears. Believe me, it is true. No matter what or how they tell you "what you want to hear", it is just that. At their core, they are capable of the very crime they committed...and most likely many that never resulted in charges.


Thank you for the article.

I recently have considered actually taking some steps to change policy in my state relating to phone call restrictions and a process whereby people who did not know one another prior to prison, become informed.

Terry B. Davis profile image

Terry B. Davis 7 years ago Author


Thank you for your comment. Sorry about your loss, but at least it was only money and you caught on.They look to take advantage of peoples circumstances and their good heartedness. I wish you the best of luck.


Ken 7 years ago

I've lerned the hard way about woman inmates and the scams they use. First off they say they only want letters then after a few letters they need money for stamps. My Pen-pal is in Hobby Unit Marlin Tx.Anyway I ended up sending her over 200 dollars what a fool I was. What finally did it for me was she sent me a fony order form and had a bunch of articals checked off and the prices. Well Looked into the company it is supposingly in MO and it dosen't exsist. I guess she had people on the outside who are working with her to take orders and scam you out of money. Anyway I am older and alone and in bad health and came upon Prison pen-pals what a misstake I made. I am runined as far as ever writing to a prisioner again. I guess thats why they are in prison. Just a word to the wise becareful especially if you are lonely and have a good heart.

Pachuca213 7 years ago

Let me add though that I am certain there are some men in there that really do yearn for a relationship....I don't want to stereotype!

Pachuca213 7 years ago

Oh yeah I know all about one time back in the day me and my carnalas fell for the bad boys and would hook up with someone on the inside. I realized the game when I found out how my brother would write all these different chics and ask one to send money, another packages, another stamps and so on....he used them. And sadly in one relationship one guy used me. I learned the hard way....its all lovey dovey lies and pretty cards with poems and drawings but when they get out they are gone with the wind or they try to shack up with you and bleed your bank account dry...then its off to the next girl they meet! Thats the jailbird life...

Terry B. Davis profile image

Terry B. Davis 7 years ago Author

I received an email from a reader that basically stated my conclusions were in error. As he was an x inmate and maintains a pen-pal relationship and has never taken advantage of it. My article was taken from my experiances and does not cover every case in the State of California, just the ones I was aware of. This article is simply a warning to people to be careful of who they deal with. I worked in level 3 and 4 institutions, convicted felons with long rap sheets and numerous convictions. I had hoped that the individual would have noted his objections here in the comment section for all to see and evaluate on their own. There are two sides to everything, nothing in this world is absolute.

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