The PRISON PROGRAM



Our prisoner program seeks to provide moral support to incarcerated boy-lovers. These people experience a harsh and exceptionally hostile environment which undermines their self-concepts and self-respect.  We keep in touch with prisoners, primarily through a monthly Prisoners' Letter.

The Prisoners' Letter

Our Prisoners' Letter includes excerpts from our Bulletin and our other publications. Those publications, which are legal reading material in the United States, have been rejected by many prison mail rooms as detrimental to the rehabilitation of the inmate.

(We maintain that we are the only organization helping inmates to understand and cope with their sexuality. Certainly the penal system is not in the rehabilitation business.)

The unstated reason for the rejection of our publications by some prisons is that they contain pictures. Although these are legal images, they seem to offend some of the mail room personnel. However, our Prisoners' Letters contain only text, so they are usually accepted. A former prisoner may continue to receive the Prisoners' Letter while on parole, or may switch to a regular membership and receive all of our publications by paying dues (or limited income dues if unemployed).

Requests to receive the Prisoners Letter must come from the individual himself. These requests should be sent to:

NAMBLA (Prison Project), 537 Jones Street, No. 8418, San Francisco, CA 94102
We welcome donations to cover the costs of mailings to prisoners.

Pen Pals

We encourage you to correspond with prisoners. Occasional friendly letters from friends and family can be a lifeline.  Many ugly prison incidents can be prevented or mitigated by a prisoner's contacts with the outside world.  Letters and visits can provide much-needed social and psychological support for inmates facing an arbitrary and often brutal prison system, who might otherwise lose touch with reality.

Prisoners' incoming and outgoing mail is opened for inspection, and usually only checked for contraband. However, the mail is sometimes read. We urgently advise pen pals to avoid writing about any activities, whether real or imagined, that could be considered illegal. Correspondence could affect a prison's evaluation of a prisoner's state of mind, degree of "rehabilitation" and suitability for parole. We also advise that you should never become involved in any financial transactions with your pen pals.

Resource Limitations

Because of the volunteer nature of our organization, we do not have the resources to become involved in individual cases, and so cannot offer financial support or legal counsel. Nor can we send free books or other publications to prisoners.

Disparate Treatment

There is a "pecking order" throughout the criminal justice system, shown in everything from treatment at the hands of the police, through court proceedings, to treatment of prisoners and parolees by fellow inmates, guards, and parole officers. Violent criminals, even murderers and rapists, are given a higher status in the prison populations than boy-lovers who were convicted of consensual relations with minors.

The convicted individuals near the top of this pecking order often receive lighter sentences and are routinely paroled at the earliest opportunity; sometimes they are even paroled early to make prison space available for those at the bottom of the pecking order. A convict at the bottom of the pecking order can expect to receive at least as long a sentence as a murderer, and some receive multiple, consecutive sentences. Even if concurrent multiple sentences are imposed, this can affect an inmate's parole chances. One conviction for each illegal sexual act is common.

Blindly, the criminal justice system fails to differentiate between individuals accused of coercive or violent sexual acts against youngsters and consensual, loving relationships between younger and older people. The Prisoner Program's intention is to support those unjustly imprisoned for the latter, and to raise the consciousness of those guilty of the former.

Therapy

Some states conduct "therapy" programs for inmates, and for parolees once they are released. The therapy ranges from drug therapy and aversion therapy to group counseling. For parole or early release, an inmate's "cooperation" with the prison therapists conducting these programs is required. Prisoners are required to enroll for a "cure," to participate, and to seem to be rehabilitated. Some prisoners refuse therapy. These programs have never been shown to have any lasting value for the prisoner or for society.

Some states are continuing to hold those they consider to be "sexual predators" even after completion of their original sentence and parole time. These people are kept behind bars under "civil commitment" laws even though they have not been shown to be dangerous or mentally ill. Other recent laws require the registration of ex-"offenders" with police agencies and community notification of a parolee's presence, assuring pariah status and inviting vigilante action.

Many states are notorious for returning sex "offenders" to prison for trivial violations of parole conditions. Of course, this disrupts and prevents the parolee's adjustment and re-entry into ordinary society. Parole violations are a major contributor to widespread over-crowding of jails and prison facilities.

Family and Friends of Prisoners

Incarceration is a terrible thing. For a boy-lover ground into the criminal justice system, it is an especially harrowing fate.

One of the factors that can add to a prisoner's despair is the loss of all social and family support. Society's confusion about the nature of man-boy love and its stigmatization of this orientation often cause family members and friends to distance themselves from the incarcerated individual. The distant locations of prisons and their intimidating procedures also discourage visits and continuing support.

This does not have to be so. If you have a relative or friend incarcerated for non-violent acts and want to get a better understanding of the issues involved, please get in touch with us.

Things You Can Do:

  • Make a monetary contribution to the Prisoner Program. This will allow us to increase the number of newsletters we can send.  Tell incarcerated boy-lovers you know about the Prisoner Program.
  • Acquaint yourself with the dos and don'ts of writing to prisoners and become a pen pal.
  • Visit an incarcerated boy-lover.
  • Connect with the Prisoners' Civil Rights movement.
  • If you have an incarcerated family member or friend and you need to better understand his situation, contact us.
  • Copyright © NAMBLA, 2011. All rights reserved.