Maintaining Relationships While in Federal Prison: A Valuable Investment

If you are going to federal prison, strive to maintain relationships. The physical separation from loved ones is hard, I know. Still, if you ignore your network or fail to prove worthy of their unconditional support, you are making their lives–and yours–harder.

Benefits to Stayed Connected in Federal Prison:

Staying connected with loved ones can provide emotional support, which is crucial to one’s well-being while in federal prison. Support and encouragement from family and friends can be essential to maintaining a positive attitude, staying motivated, and even reducing the risk of depression and anxiety.

As an introvert, there were days I did not want to call home or visit. I wanted to spend time alone, to think. Yet, I knew not calling home or shunning visits was a non-starter for me. After all, people were suffering because of me. They wanted to see and support me. While some visits and calls home was brutal, I never regretted doing them.

As expressed through my daily prison blog, maintaining (and growing) relationships in federal prison provided a sense of purpose and connection to the world outside prison.

It helped me feel as if I was part of the community. My body was in prison, yet my mind could roam and contribute. Plus, I liked the response I received to the blog–I felt super valuable!

Blogging, good old snail mail, phone calls, and visits allowed me to stay connected to milestones (for example, my niece being born) at home.

Strengthening relationships while in prison can also provide a valuable support network after release. Building and maintaining these connections enabled me to quickly line up employment when I got to the halfway house in Hollywood, CA, on May 20, 2009. My network knew I had invested the time to introspect and examine the choices that led me to prison. They read about my growth through my blog and release plan. The work I did inside to maintain relationships helped ensure my furlough to the halfway house (despite the Great Recession) was easy and efficient. I recommend that other prisoners follow my strategy.

By maintaining connections with your network, prisoners can demonstrate their commitment to positive change and rebuild trust and relationships that may have been damaged. In other words, please do not talk about–do it!!

Maintaining relationships while in federal prison is essential and an investment in well-being and future success. The support, connection, and opportunities for growth from these relationships can make all the difference in a successful transition back into society. Therefore, federal prisoners must stay connected and strengthen relationships every day they serve their federal prison sentence.


Justin Paperny