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Pen pal network brings joy to hundreds of prisoners

A volunteer-run pen pal program for prisoners is bringing joy to hundreds of people and strengthening prisoners’ connections with the outside world.

The Prisoner Correspondence Network (PCN) started as an initiative from advocacy group People Against Prisons Aotearoa (PAPA) in 2016. It was initially meant specifically for LGBT prisoners, but quickly opened up to include all prisoners.

“Being incarcerated is a lonely and isolating experience. Receiving letters and building friendships helps to cut through that isolation,” says PAPA spokeswoman Emilie Rākete.

According to Rākete, the PCN is helping to break cycles of recidivism and re-incarceration.

“The majority of people in prison will be released one day. We want them to come out to a supportive community which cares about them and wants them to do well. Having regular contact with the outside world makes such a difference.”

“We’ve had enthusiastic feedback from people inside and outside prison who participate in the program. Our incarcerated pen pals often send us thank you letters and artwork.”

To sign up to the Prisoner Correspondence Network and become a pen pal, you can send an email to pcnaotearoa@gmail.com.

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