When your loved one is incarcerated, it can be difficult for your family to cope with the change. Family parties, holidays, and even daily routines feel different without them there. Just think about how they feel. This is why it’s important for you to provide communication and assistance during their sentence.
While there are many ways that you can help your loved one in prison, this guide will outline some of the most effective ways to offer support. By taking these steps, you will show you how to care for and help your family members feel valued.
1. Plan Frequent Visits
No matter how long your loved one will be in prison, they may feel isolated from friends and family. So, planning regular visits is one of the best ways to show that you care. Be sure to contact the prison and learn about their visitation rules. They may have restrictions on when you can visit, what you can wear, and what items you can bring.
During this time, share stories about your family and other details of your life. Even small daily details can be meaningful to an incarcerated individual. They will likely be happy to hear about your joys and adventures since prison life is highly routined.
If you don’t live near your incarcerated loved one, you can send letters instead of visiting in person. Online prison search tools can help you look up a federal, state, or county jail inmate. Using this service, you can learn where your loved one is located and get one step closer to finding their address. These types of resources can be particularly useful if you don’t have any close family members with this information or you want to send a letter privately to the inmate.
2. Send Gifts
While prisons may lack everyday comforts, you can send gifts for your loved ones to enjoy in their daily life. There are restrictions on what you can send to prisons. However, even the most basic items can hold meaning. Books, magazines, and newspapers are common prison gifts since they keep your loved one entertained and up to date on current events.
Money can also be a great gift since prisoners generally have to buy any items that go beyond everyday necessities. While most prisons provide items like soap and basic clothing, inmates can use their personal money to purchase things like phone time, internet access, snacks, coffee, and makeup. Even $20 or $30 per month can go a long way for your loved one in jail.
Remember that if you don’t know what gifts your loved one needs or wants, simply ask. They will likely be grateful for your thoughtfulness.
3. Prepare For Their Release
You may be focused on supporting your loved one in prison and getting through their prison sentence. However, remember that you also need to get ready for their release. If your loved one will be leaving prison in the next year or so, there are steps you should take to ensure their health and security during reentry.
Health insurance is the main concern for recently incarcerated individuals. Your loved one likely will not have health insurance when they leave prison, but they will likely need it to address physical and mental health concerns. Especially if your spouse will be leaving prison soon, you might consider purchasing short-term health insurance for them. This temporary plan will help them get on their feet while they seek employment. Start looking for short health quotes as soon as possible, ensuring that your spouse or family member is covered upon release.
Other details to cover include potential employment opportunities, housing, and general reentry support. There may be services in your community to help with reentry, so look into getting extra help.
While life can be difficult for incarcerated individuals and their families, you can help your loved one directly just by showing your support. Knowing that they have loved ones caring for them and anticipating their release can make their prison sentence much easier. All of your friends and family can feel more connected to your loved one by staying present in this way.