Nearly one in two Americans has a family member who has experienced incarceration. When a loved one is imprisoned, staying in touch is vital. Yet prison communication remains prohibitively expensive.
The $1.2 billion prison telecommunications industry is one of the most under-reported bad actors in the criminal justice space. Private telecommunications companies exploit vulnerable families’ desire to remain connected while separated by incarceration. These providers profit primarily from low-income families: one in three families with incarcerated loved ones are forced into debt due to the costs of maintaining contact.
We want to reconnect incarcerated people and their loved ones, for free. "Letters for Families" enables users to send free, physical mail to any correctional or detention facility in the United States. Users can search an incarcerated loved one’s mailing address, draft a message, attach a photo, and track their letter until the physical copy arrives safely.
"Letters for Organizations" connects criminal justice and re-entry groups with incarcerated people who are nearing their release dates. Closing the revolving door of recidivism requires coordinated reentry support to help recently incarcerated people find employment, housing, healthcare, legal assistance, and more.
This summer, we hope to launch "Connect": the nation’s first free video conferencing platform to serve correctional and detention facilities. We’re building a secure platform to connect incarcerated people with loved ones, lawyers, and remote telehealth, educational, and religious services – all for free.
Our vision is to disrupt the prison telecommunications industry by outcompeting incumbents with services that prioritize users over profits. There is strong evidence that sustaining contact during incarceration improves post-release outcomes and reduces recidivism. We hope that in the long term, our services will significantly shrink prison populations.
Funded by Awesome Without Borders (August 2020)