Push the Pen: Writing Your Legislator

The famous adage uttered by English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839 explained the power of written communication: “The pen is mightier than the sword.” Many people who are incarcerated call it Pushing the Pen. 

When it comes to serving time together, you both will need to push that pen when there are problems that your loved one cannot navigate. The system the two of you are part of is packed with obstacles like unsatisfactory medical care, lengthy wait times for limited programming, inadequate access to required services, as well as unanswered requests from staff and officers.

You and your loved one must take the time to determine any specific problems they are struggling with because of incarceration. The communication limitations in most prisons are limited to letters and phone calls. If you are going to be called upon to write or email someone to help with an issue, you need to gather detailed information every time you two converse. It would be best to devise a plan of how to go about gathering critical information when a problem arises by having a notebook ready.

You are looking for details and specifics whenever possible. For example, if they aren’t receiving their regular medical checkups through chronic care, you may ask them if this is occurring with the entire prison population. When was the last time they saw someone? Who did they see? Have your questions ready so the conversation can go smoothly and use time efficiently. 

To learn how to go about advocating, read this excellent article.

You and your loved one need to make sure that you both have on file essential names and addresses should anything arise for further contact. You will need the names of department heads for the Medical department, Case Managers, Social Workers, Warden, Assistant Warden, Pastor. You also will want the names of their bosses, which is found in a different location. A good tip is to get the names of the office secretaries for the Warden and Assistant Warden. They are most often responsible for handling correspondence that comes through these offices.

Your loved one can request this information through their access to the prison library and you can often locate it on the specific prison website where your loved one is located. 

Your hard work will be what a loved one clings to when incarcerated and feels unheard or alone so push the pen and make a difference.