Prison is a lonely and frightening place where people get shut-out of life as they know it including the interaction of friends and family. Prison is overwhelming even for the most resilient personality. Our dedicated L’Asurim volunteers are a backbone in these difficult times addressing each person’s need by bringing support from the outside. We established many programs with the emphasis towards easing the daily hardship that prisons face and to help prevent others from getting into trouble with the law in the first place. Some of the key programs are Prisoner Visitation; Kosher Food Distribution; Family Transportation; Family FAQ; Clergy Visits, Pen-Pal, Prisoners Welfare; Learning Programs, Halachic and Kosher answers, Monthly Newsletter.
<strong>Prisoner Visitation</strong> – Family and friends are most appreciated in these times when you feel purged out of everyone’s life. It is a ray of hope for a prisoner to have visits from the outside, something to look forward out of the constant reminders of the situation you are in. We have put together a system in tracking on the visiting schedules to maximize and give encouragement for family and friends to support their loved ones. We have also built a continuously growing volunteer network of people willing to visit inmates and contribute their time, heart, and smile for people going through these challenging time and in need for a person to show they care and willing to listen.
<strong>Kosher Food</strong> – As an observant person in prison, the options for food and supplies are very much limited. L’ASurim works with kosher products distributors who are willing to comply with prison requirements to provide for Jewish inmates an opportunity of having kosher food.
<strong>Family Transportation</strong> – we help friends and family visit prison through our network of volunteer drivers who do round trips so that family can visit their loved ones hassle-free.
<strong>Family FAQ</strong> – When the unfortunate happens and everything comes crashing down the family is in desperate need to a word of advice, answer their countless questions, having someone to listen and relate to their situation. With our connection of families and people experienced in these matters we connect you to the someone willing to share their experiences as a family member of an inmate or advice from a former inmate that has been through these rough times.
<strong>Rabbinical (Clergy) Visitation</strong> – We coordinate Rabbinical visitation. These visits gives inmates the opportunity to have heart-felt conversations with spiritual leaders.
<strong>Pen-Pal</strong> – Receiving a hand-written letter in prison has the most profound feeling of joy, and more so is having to whom to write back a few meaningful words and being able to express yourself to someone giving one a glimpse of life, helping them cope and rebuilding their inner self… L’Asurim created a sizable network of all types of people young, old, mothers, and retired from various backgrounds from doctors, lawyers, Jewish scholars, to electricians where we match you up with an inmate that matches common interests based on the signup kit we created which includes prison rules, sample letters, outline of what to write and what not to write etc…
<strong>Prisoners Welfare Advocacy</strong> – Basic Rights in prison are restricted, especially when it comes to religious needs such as kosher food and religious articles. L’Asurim has improved on these issues to varying degrees of success and L’Asurim continues to advocate for change with facility leadership and lawmakers.
<strong>Learning Programs & Religious Articles</strong> – Learning is the strongest foundation both for the educated scholar and for a beginner giving a higher purpose to strive for and a stepping stone for rehabilitation.La’surim has implemented a scholar program providing religious books, schedule for weekly achievements to keep one fulfilled and promote higher education.
<strong>Halachic & Kashres</strong> – There are many questions that arises inside the prison walls on a daily basis that require knowledge of the halacha and the reality of prison in which La’surim has the experience with the guidance of our today’s dayanim
<strong>A Support Newsletter</strong> – A newsletter is distributed to all inmates delivering quality content with support columns; various interesting articles, and mind stimulating puzzles to keep the mind running and getting a breeze of the outside world.
Every inmate has been screened and has completed a written application with L’Asurim. That application requests that the inmate describe himself or herself and list things such as hobbies, interests, and details of their imprisonment. By completing the Volunteer Pen Pal Application Form <<<LINK>>>, we will try to find the most compatible match for both parties. Both your application and the inmate’s application are strictly confidential and are only used internally by L’Asurim and are never given out to a third party (even to the prospective pen pal).
You tell them. We will give you the name and address of the pen pal that we have determined to be a good match for you. At that point, you will mail your first letter or card and that will be the inmate’s initial notification that a pen pal relationship has commenced. You both will grow the relationship at your own pace and disclose information to each other as you both determine to be comfortable and appropriate. Feel free to use this sample letter <<<LINK>>> for some ideas on composing your first letter.
If the inmate having your personal address is a concern, then you should procure a P.O. Box and use that as your mailing address in all correspondence. If you do not have or do not want to buy a P.O. Box, you can contact L’Asurim and arrangements can be made to use our office address as a mailing address.
A: You may select a pen name if you would like to keep your real name confidential. In this case, you would also use the office of L’Asurim as the mailing address and we will act as the intermediary to send and receive the mail.
Inmates in the Unites States very seldom have access to the internet. At this time, state prisons do not allow e-mail at all. Federal prisons do not have a ban on e-mail and may allow it depending on the circumstances. If you are interested in e-mailing your pen pal in federal prison, ask him or her in your initial letter if they have the ability and desire to correspond by e-mail?
Of course. Some pen pals have as many as three or four inmates they write to on a regular basis. Some people prefer just to have one pen pal. The decision is completely up to you. However, we suggest that you start off with just one until you familiarize yourself with the process and assess the amount of time involved versus the amount of time you have to volunteer.
You and your pen pal will determine the amount that is mutually desired as the relationship progresses. Some pen pals write as often as once a week, while others only once a month.
No. Each prison has very specific mail rules. Your pen pal will know his or her mail rules. Therefore, before sending anything besides letters, check with the inmate first. Often times, books, magazines, etc. may be sent care of the prison’s chaplain. Your pen pal will be able to advise you of the specifics. We suggest that you never volunteer to send money or respond to a request for money. In addition, never hesitate to contact our office if you are unsure if something an inmate requested that you send him or her is appropriate.
Notify L’Asurim immediately and halt all correspondence. We will assign you another pen pal. However, the inmates participating in this program are instructed that the content of all correspondence must be appropriate, non-vulgar, and not solicit any money or legal advice.
Letters to inmates sometimes experience delays being routed internally at the prison. Another possibility is that the inmate was transferred and their mail was not correctly forwarded. If over a month has elapsed without a response, please contact our office and we will look into the matter.
Let us know. L’Asurim has a wide range of religious books and material that we make available to inmates. Please simply relate the inmate request to us and we will try to accommodate it.
Prisons are not places that we in the free world can easily understand. Things do happen within prisons that are unacceptable and your pen pal may feel the need to vent some frustrations to you. Let us know about any serious problem. If there is a genuine incident of anti-Semitic behavior or other civil rights violations, we have an active legal department that will deal appropriately with these problems.
Yes. Please indicate that preference when completing the Volunteer Pen Pal Application Form.
We ask that our pen pals be 18 years of age or older. If you feel it appropriate, you are always welcome to include a note from your child along with a correspondence of your own. Children should never send or receive correspondence without parental supervision.
We estimate that there are approximately 6,000 Jews in U.S. prisons. This is why pen pal services are so much needed since these 6,000 Jewish prisoners are a small fraction of the 3.2 million U.S. prison population and thus feel isolated.
It is, unfortunately, not common. Many inmates are forgotten. Family and friend may feel embarrassed or ashamed by brethren in prisons and choose to cut off communication with them.