In this fast paced, connected Internet world we live in it’s all instant messaging, cell phones and e-mail. Of course the inmates at the local correctional facility don’t have access to such amenities. When someone there wants to make contact they have to do it the old fashioned way and send a hand-written letter.
I tend to get about two or three letters a year from someone in the Wynne Unit. You can always tell it’s prisoner mail when you see it. The hand-written address on the envelope is dead giveaway. When you open the envelope to remove the letter a small piece of paper usually falls out that says
GENERAL INMATE CORRESPONDENCE – TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE – INSTITUTIONAL DIVISION
It’s like one of those ‘Inspected by #42’ tags that you find in the pocket of a new pair of pants.
Most of the time the letter tends to be a question about what to study to get a computer job when the inmate is released or some other question about something we talked about weeks before.
Last night there was a letter in my station mailbox and it was immediately obvious it was another prison letter. I opened it up and read it. It was an unusual letter in that it asked nothing of me. No question to respond to or anything. It was just one prisoner’s observations on the show.
This is how it started off:
Jay and everyone else,
Greetings. Yes I’m writing from prison but before you start thinking I’m some tin-foil hat wearing weirdo stalker type person, let me assure you I have never even owned a tin-foil hat! Kudos on the show, I’ve even learned a thing or two but usually, though, I just tune in for all the jackassery so double kudos on that!
The rest of the letter went on to describe, quite humorously, some of his observations of the program. I read the whole thing on the air last night. I hope he got to hear it.
It made me think how much I miss hand-written letters. There’s something about holding a piece of paper in your hand and reading the contents when it’s something crafted just for you in such a manner.
Oh, and it had the word jackassery in it! That is, certainly, an underutilized term that I think should be used much more. As you prowl the Interweb today you should drop it on your friends in casual comments and conversation.