to Support Political Prisoners
By Maureen C. Wyse
Due to the recent onslaught of arrests
and imprisonment of environmental, animal and social justice activists,
we must show our
support to these
individuals. Following this guide you will find various ways to help
people held in our government’s prisons. One point of discretion
everyone should keep in mind is that each political prisoner has different
stipulations and regulations mandated by their specific location of imprisonment
and their court sentencing. A key is to always check out prisoners’ support
sites before acting on their behalf.
Letter Writing Guide
Rule number one, keep it simple. Always research exactly what prisoners
are allowed to receive, how letters should be sent and formatted, how
many books or magazines are permitted, etc.
Keep in mind, mail is often read by prison officials, the FBI, the Office of
Homeland Security and other officials. Be careful when writing, anything can
be used against the prisoner, yourself and your community.
Knowing the importance of letter writing is crucial. Prisons are very lonely,
isolating, and disconnected places. Any sort of bridge from the outside world
is greatly appreciated. With that in mind, avoid feeling intimidated, especially
about writing to someone you do not know. And if possible try and be a consistent
Suggestions for Writing:
1. Introduce yourself, what you’re involved with, where you’re from,
etc. It may be helpful for you if the first letter
is short, or even a postcard.
2. Let these people know what is going on in the movement, the world, the community,
everything is crucial as the prison system tries to sever ties with the outside
3. Ask them what prison is like, what they plan to do when their time is up,
and how you can help.
4. Avoid commenting on their case in general, especially avoid congratulating
prisoners or implying that they’re
5. Avoid giving legal advice or saying anything about illegal activities, even
Basic Writing Rules:
1. Use only blank notebook or virgin copy paper, no larger than 8 1⁄2 x
2. Use only pencils, or blue or black ink pens, avoid using special colored pencils
or pens, especially the gel varieties.
3. Avoid decoration, anything that will draw attention, stickers or stamps.
4. Use standard sized, blank white envelopes, those without the clear plastic
address windows, special decorations,
or self-sealing adhesive closures.
5. Avoid writing anything on the envelope beyond what is required: the prisoner’s
address, your full name and a return address. Include your name and return address
on each page of the letter as well,
as often letters arrive without their envelopes and missing pages. Number the
pages of the letter (i.e. 1 of 5).
6. If mailing more than a letter, clearly write the contents of the envelope/package.
Label it “CONTENTS” and
include a full list.
7. It is suggested to send mail “certified” or with “delivery
confirmation” to ensure delivery.
Other Ways to Support:
Here are a few ways to support beyond paper and pen.
1. Donate to prisoners’ legal defense. Legal fees are exorbitant and without
fail, all prisoners and those on trial need a large amount of financial assistance.
Look up prisoners’ defense funds
2. Donate to their Commissary Funds. Help them purchase phone cards, toothpaste,
soap, socks, stamps, envelopes, etc.
As little as $10 a week can cover prisoners’ postage fees. Usually funds
can be sent directly to the prison and deposited into the prisoner’s account.
3. Spread the word. Tell others about the case, what’s going on and how
they can help.
4. Send books. Books are always appreciated. However, in most circumstances,
all books must come directly from publishers or distributors. Also, as in writing,
keep discretion when choosing titles. Often,
prisoners have support committees maintaining Amazon.com “wish lists” for
prisoners. You can visit them online and make purchases.
5. Organize benefits. Music shows, parties, yard sales, auctions, anything you
can think up. Use your creativity and you
will be surprised at the results.
6. Solidarity actions. Often, the greatest action you can do, especially in the
name of those locked up, is continue the struggle for human, earth and animal
liberation. Leaflet, hold demonstrations,
anything you can to help further the cause. While these people, so devoted to
animal, social and environmental activism, are locked inside, act, speak, and
teach for them.
For a list of political prisoners, and for updates check out www.spiritoffreedom.org.uk/addresses.html.
© STEALTH TECHNOLOGIES INC.