The Story Behind Love Your Inmate Day

Love Your Inmate Day

Love Your Inmate Day is fast approaching! Each year on August 8th, we dedicate a day to our incarcerated loved ones to show them that they are still loved and supported, even while behind bars. But what exactly is Love Your Inmate Day, and why was it started? Keep reading for the story behind the day and how you can take part this year. 

The Backstory

Back in 2017, the Pelipost team was noticing unique holidays popping up left and right. Between seeing “National Friendship Day,” “National Boyfriend Day,” and even “National Dog Day,” an idea came to them. Why not create a holiday for the community of people affected by incarceration? 

“We wanted to dedicate a day to come together and spread positivity and love among this community,” said Natalie Calderon, Chief Marketing Officer of Pelipost. “Some incarcerated loved ones have longer sentences than others. We wanted to show them that they are not alone no matter the circumstance.”

The Pelipost team came up with “Love Your Inmate Day,” to be recognized each year on August 8th. 2021 will mark the fourth annual celebration of this day. 

The Meaning of Love Your Inmate Day

The intentions of Love Your Inmate Day (LYID) are not only to show your incarcerated loved one that you care, but also to get in touch with other friends and families affected by incarceration. The significance of this day is to show that no one is alone in this journey, whether behind bars or on the outside. 

“This is important because there’s a stigma surrounding this community and people don’t talk about it,” says Calderon. “To break through that wall and recognize that everyone makes mistakes and that it’s okay. It means a lot to say, ‘We can relate and we’re here for you.’”

How You Can Celebrate

How can you take part in Love Your Inmate Day? The Love Your Inmate Day website lists multiple ways to get involved with the celebration in 2021. These include:

Love Never Gives Up Frame 

You can purchase an exclusive frame to recognize that a picture is worth 1,000 words. You can shop now here

8 Days of Dedications 

Create a dedication to your incarcerated loved one on the LYID Facebook page. All you have to do is send us a photo and a message about your loved one. We will be sharing the dedications on our Facebook wall all day from August 1st-8th, 2021. 

Love Never Gives Up Bracelets

Also available in the LYID store are the ”LOVE NEVER GIVES UP” silicone bracelets. These bracelets were made exclusively for Love Your Inmate Day. Get yours today!

Dedication Wall

Get your picture on the Dedication Wall! Get your “LOVE NEVER GIVES UP” bracelet, snap a photo, and share it with us to be added to the 2021 wall. 

Love Your Inmate Day Giveaway

Take part in the Love Your Inmate Day Giveaway! Show us your most creative ways to celebrate LYID and show your incarcerated loved one that you care. Eight winners will receive a prize package including a $50 Visa gift card, (1) Pelipost t-shirt, (1) Love Your Inmate Day Bundle, and 2,000 PeliPOINTS to redeem in the Pelipost app

Don’t forget to send your incarcerated loved ones photos in honor of Love Your Inmate Day! You can download the Pelipost app through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

Willie Brown: PeliPALS Story

When it comes to the Pelipost app, I always seem to ask myself — where have you been all this time I’ve been incarcerated? I’ve had to go through several other companies only to be let down, my money being wasted or even gone missing. It kind of seems like the failings of a past relationship. The only thing you can say is that they both had one thing in common — it was them and not me who was the real problem throughout the whole ordeal.

I’ve been single since July 2016, from the time I left the county jail only to be admitted to the Illinois Department of Corrections. I’m just Willie Brown, Inmate Number Y14625 behind these prison walls. But to all my family, friends, and fans, I’m still loved. I want them to remember me for being the hip-hop artist/rapper Mr. Brown Swagger as they watch my live performances and music videos. My legacy still lives on my YouTube page.

No, I haven’t given up hope. Just know I’m still fighting for my freedom to give this 65 year sentence that was thrust upon me. I’ve just stumbled across some newly discovered evidence — but that’s a whole other story for another time.

My daily routine is working out, eating right, getting a good night’s sleep, and when it’s time for mail call, to see if I’ve received photos. I’ve gotten some of the entire family as they continue to showcase living life, and to see all of the little ones growing. It brings me so much joy, and is what I truly look forward to from my family. If they continue to share these with me, it will always keep my spirits up high.

The moral of the story as to why I opened a Pelipost prepaid account was to bridge the gap between my family and me. I wanted photos of my family and friends, but the issue was always that they had no time or sometimes money to get the photos printed or pay for the postage. With the Pelipost app, there would never be a hassle or excuse as to why I didn’t receive my photos. When I’m paying for the service, all they have to do is send the photos to my Pelipost account by downloading and using the app — Pelipost takes care of the rest of the details.

Thank you, Pelipost, for sharing my story.

Sincerely and forever,

Willie Brown

Sergio Garcia: PeliPALS story

It’s hard to understand what life is like for the incarcerated. That’s why we want to bring the stories of our PeliPALS to light and share their experiences with incarceration. Today, we bring you the story of Sergio Garcia, one of our PeliPALS in Illinois.

If you’d like your incarcerated loved one’s story featured, have them mail it to Pelipost.

My name is Sergio Garcia. I’m from Chicago, Illinois. Growing up, all I chose was the bad path. Because that’s all I saw. So my mind was already made up at a young age. I ended up getting myself in a spot I didn’t want to be in. But now I’m fighting to get myself back to the outside. I’m a changed man.

I came in at the age of 19. Now I’m 25 (soon to be 26 on May 17). I grew up in here. My charge is attempted murder, and I was sentenced to 40 years at 85%. What gets me through the day is music and my family. I most look forward to my family never giving up on me and staying by my side.

Every time I get pictures, or hear from family and friends, that lifts my spirit up. I will never give up fighting to get my life back.

It’s sad that there will be some kids who chose this life, but don’t know what they’re getting themselves into. I wish I could help them and let them know this isn’t the life to live. I hope they pick a better path. I want to tell Pelipost thank you for letting me share a tiny bit of my story.

How To Send A Letter To Someone In Jail

The period of incarceration can be a difficult time for both the incarcerated individual and their loved ones. Keeping in contact with an inmate during their time behind bars has shown to have many benefits — from keeping a relationship alive to improving overall mental health. One of the simplest ways to stay in contact with an incarcerated loved one is by sending them letters. If you don’t know the right steps, the process may seem overwhelming, but keep reading as we lay out how to send a letter to someone in jail. 

Importance of Sending Letters

Keeping Up With One Another

While your loved one is incarcerated, it can put a strain on your relationship as you do not get the chance to speak every day. But it is important to remember that your loved one is probably missing you and their normal day-to-day life. They probably want to keep up with what is going on in your life, and sending updates through letters can be a great way to do this. However, you must keep in mind many facilities have rules and regulations on sending and receiving mail that you need to check before sending. 

To Have and to Hold

Although visiting and phone calls have their own set of benefits, one of the main benefits of sending your incarcerated loved one a letter is that it is a physical item they get to keep. They can keep the letter in their belongings, and return to it when they are missing you. 

Ways to Send Letters to an Incarcerated Individual

Email

A simple way to send a letter to your incarcerated loved one is through email. When you send a letter through email, the note will be printed on paper to be given to the incarcerated person. To send, visit the website of the facility your loved one is located at to find specific email addresses and instructions. Some facilities may require you to go through an approval process before sending a letter. Once you have your letter written, make sure the content is appropriate and follows the rules before sending. 

Postage

Another simple way to send a letter to your incarcerated friend or family member is through traditional postage mail. The benefit to this method is that a handwritten letter is more personal and intimate, and something your incarcerated loved one will cherish. When sending a physical letter in the mail, the facility will typically require you to include the inmate’s legal name, their DOC number, and the address of the facility on the front of the envelope

Send Photos with Pelipost

In addition to sending letters, sending your incarcerated loved ones photos is another great way to stay connected to one another. Like the letters, a photo is a tangible item they can hold onto and look at when they are missing you. Pelipost is an app in which you can send photos to your loved one directly through your smartphone, making connecting with your loved one an easy process. 

Ready to send pictures? You can download the Pelipost app through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. 

Why Specializing in Correctional Facility Photo Delivery Makes Pelipost Different

Staying in contact with an  incarcerated loved one can have a significant positive impact on your relationship and mental health. When you keep in contact with an incarcerated individual, it can make a world of difference in their motivation and outlook on life. Phone calls, in-person visits, and sending letters are all great ways to keep that connection alive. In addition, one of the most impactful ways you can stay connected to your incarcerated loved one is by sending them physical photos to keep and look at when they are missing home. It used to be as simple as finding the right photo requirements and sending them through the mail; however, many facilities have recently updated their rules and regulations. Contraband and other problems have become an issue with jail mail, and some facilities are limiting the capabilities of sending loved ones photos. Many prisons are only allowing third-party vendors to send in photos to reduce the amount of problematic mail received. 

What is a Third-Party Provider?

A third-party provider is typically defined as an external person or company who provides a service or technology as part of a contract. In the context of sending mail to incarcerated individuals, these third-party vendors are companies, like Pelipost, that take in photo submissions from individuals, print them out, and send them to the facility on the customer’s behalf. This eliminates steps for the customer, as they do not have to physically print the photo or stop at the post office. In addition, the third-party provider typically makes sure the photos are printed at the correct accepted size and only include approved content

Why Does it Matter?

The most important step in the prison mail process is when the mail is physically given to the incarcerated individual. To ensure that the photos make it to that step, there are many rules and regulations you must follow, although it varies from facility to facility. This is where the importance of a third-party service provider comes in to deliver your photos to your incarcerated loved one. With many correctional facilities limiting mail from individuals, the third-party providers may be the only way to guarantee that your photos will make it through the entire process. 

How Pelipost Can Help

Pelipost is an app that was designed specifically for the purpose of being a third-party provider for loved ones to send photos to incarcerated individuals. With the three step process of uploading your photos, sending them in, and the photos arriving at the facility, Pelipost simplifies the way you can send in your photos to your incarcerated loved one. Pelipost stands out among other third-party vendors because unlike other companies, we specialize in correctional facility delivery. Our customer service team is experienced in working with these correctional facilities and their rules and regulations. Our team is always available to help with questions about specific facilities and will even reach out to the facility’s mailroom if there are any issues with the order. 

Ready to send pictures? You can download the Pelipost app through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

The Pelipost Story

Becky & Joe at Pelipost HQ

Pelipost is a family run business that was born out of love and personal experiences of Mother/son, Becky and Joe Calderon, who experienced first-hand what it’s like to have and be an incarcerated loved one.

Joe was in college, Becky’s legal troubles caught up with her, and she received a three year prison term. Becky was sentenced to California’s Central Women’s Facility in Chowchilla, an eight-hour drive away from Joe. Communication was extremely limited, and finding ways to stay in touch was challenging. 

While incarcerated, Becky missed major events, like her son’s graduation, when he got his first job out of school, and when he bought his first car. Becky would ask Joe for photos of his life, but sending photos to prison manually is a complicated, time-consuming process, and he struggled to find the time to send pictures.

“To receive pictures from home was a celebration in the cell,” Becky says. “It didn’t matter who received them, they were always shared with those around you. It’s like saying ‘SEE! This is my real life outside of these walls.’”

“One day, I remember thinking to myself ‘I have thousands of pictures on my phone. I wish there was a service that could print and send my photos for me,’” Joe says. “The idea stuck with me and upon my mom’s release, we got down to business and launched a mobile app called Pelipost.”

From this personal experience, Pelipost came to be. Becky and Joe understand what it’s like to be separated from a loved one by incarceration. Their mission is to bring hope to families and their incarcerated loved ones through cherished representations of the love and life on the outside. Today, Pelipost has shipped over 10 million photos and proudly serves over 500,000 customers around the world.

Dionna and Her Story From the Inside

Pelipost is launching a new series devoted to the stories of those incarcerated. Our next story is by Dionna Beacham who shares her struggles and her triumphs while behind bars.

Written By: Dionna Beacham

Hey Pelipost Viewers,

I would like to share my story with you. I’ve never written for a blog before, so bear with me.

I am a 45-year-old African American woman who has been incarcerated since the age of 19 for a crime I committed in 1994. My 14-year-old co-defendant did a few months in a juvenile center and went home. She put the crime and blame on me because I was older. She got off without any repercussions. I’ve been sitting behind bars for 27 years for a crime that was committed by two people but was solely placed on one individual. 

At the end of the day, I was found guilty by a jury in 1996 and sentenced to an extended term of 90 years imprisonment. The state wants me to serve 45 years of that 90-year sentence. I was a first-time offender who had no criminal background but was sentenced as a habitual criminal.

Did I deserve to be punished for my crime? Absolutely! One hundred percent! Should it have been so harsh? I don’t believe so. I deserved to do time behind bars, but to sentence me as if I am the worst of the worst and incapable of change isn’t fair.

Still to this day, I continue to fight for my freedom, reaching out to various organizations, projects and legal firms for professional assistance. The road has been bumpy, but I refuse to give up. I continue to fight because I am no threat or danger to society, nor am I that same selfish, non-compliant, immature teenager who did a lot of childish and foolish things in her past. I’m mature. I’m wiser, and my “thought process” is far from what is used to be when I was a kid. 

My past does not define the person I am today. During my years of incarceration, I’ve kept busy doing positive things trying to prepare myself for society. I’ve graduated from several college classes and in March 2020, I earned my Associates Degree in Liberal Studies. That is something I am very proud of.

The criminal justice system talks a good game of rehabilitating, restoring and returning offenders back into society, but truth be told, the non-violent crimes and/or repeat offenders are the ones who keep getting chance after chance. Offenders who have nowhere to go upon release and did nothing to better themselves while incarcerated. Yet, offenders like myself who have a strong support system on the outside, have a place to go upon release and bettered themselves through education are the ones who rarely get a second chance to prove that we can live in society as law-abiding citizens.

I also know that no good deed I’ve done while incarcerated can erase the fact that the crime I committed in 1994 changed and disrupted the normality of so many lives. Although I am sincerely remorseful and very apologetic to the victim’s family and my family as well, the consequences of my past actions still remain. I cannot change the past. All I can do is continue to work at being better than I was the day before. I’ve evolved into a mature, hardworking, responsible, and educated woman. My freedom means a lot to me and I will not stop fighting until I get it.

What helps me get through the day? My faith in God. I was brought up in a Baptist church, so I look to my daily bread readings to help build my strength, because at times I do get discouraged. Writing my own fiction novels helps me get through the day as well. Writing takes me away from prison for a while. Last but not least, knowing that I have family and friends on the outside who love me and support my fight for my freedom really means a lot and gets me through another day.

What do I look forward to from family and friends? Mental support, letters, emails, visits, and phone calls mean a lot to me. It gives me that connection with them. Staying mentally fit goes a long way behind these walls.

What can my friends and family do to keep my spirits up? Honestly, just continue to encourage and support me mentally and spiritually, and most of all continue to help me fight for my freedom.

To be incarcerated for over two decades and never see a parole board is truly sad. The parole board seriously needs to come back to Illinois. Offenders are just sitting here getting old. Hopefully change is going to come.

Respectfully, 

Dionna B. 

The Best Ways to Resolve Conflict With Your Incarcerated Loved Ones

Change is hard. Relationships are hard. When you put the two together, conflict often arises. With incarceration being such a big change in a person’s life, the stress can put a strain on relationships with friends and family. Research has shown that staying in contact with an incarcerated loved one has many benefits affecting behavior and mental health. It is important to try and keep your bond strong. Follow these tips to resolve conflict with your incarcerated loved one, and to relieve stress during your time spent apart. 

Best Ways to Resolve Conflict With Your Incarcerated Loved Ones

Communication and Understanding 

Compassion: Put yourself in each other’s shoes.

A common exercise in resolving conflicts of any kind is to put yourself in the other’s shoes. Although incarceration is a different type of situation than most, it is important to recognize that both parties are going through a lot of stress in different ways. The person behind bars is having to adjust to a whole new environment with many freedoms taken away. The person on the outside has to deal with the absence of their loved one and how that affects them financially, mentally and emotionally. Understanding how the other person feels can help you on the road to conflict resolution. 

Consideration: Is the topic worth arguing over?

Incarceration causes a major shift in the course of your lives, and can put things in perspective. Some issues you used to argue over may not matter anymore, and you can prioritize what to talk about in your limited communication time. On the other hand, some issues may be out of your incarcerated loved one’s control. It is best to take a step back, take a deep breath, and consider whether or not the problem can be resolved right now. 

Compromise: Try to resolve the problem, not win.

As you are both going through a difficult period, there is no point in trying to “win” an argument. Instead, aim to resolve the issue at hand. Brainstorming positive solutions and communicating them calmly with one another can help you to reach a compromise that both parties are happy with. 

Utilize Resources Available

Books

There are many books and other publications available that are specifically written for the friends and family of incarcerated individuals. Reading tips from experts and stories from others in similar situations can help you figure out the best way to handle your situation. A list of relevant books can be found here

Mental Healthcare

Although the incarcerated person’s mental health is a high priority, it is very important to make sure that you are taking care of your own mental health, too. If you have the resources available to you, talking to a counselor or therapist can help you work through any issues that arise. Other mental health tips include practicing meditation, exercising, journaling, and getting outdoors. 

Organizations for Families of Incarcerated Individuals

Many organizations, like the AFOI (Assisting Families of Inmates), were created to help the families of incarcerated individuals get through this difficult time. Using their services can help ease the stress of incarceration and work through the conflicts you might be having with your loved one. 

Continue to Stay In Contact

Even if you feel negative feelings of anger or resentment towards your incarcerated loved one, staying in contact with them can be beneficial to you both. It is best to contact them when you are not feeling upset, as arguments can easily arise when emotions are heightened. Phone calls and in-person visits can be a good time to try and resolve issues, as the conversations occur in real time. However, sending letters or photos through Pelipost is a great way to show your incarcerated loved one that you care, even when tensions are high. 

Ready to send pictures? You can download the Pelipost app through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

First Time Visiting Someone In Jail? What You Need to Know.

When a loved one is incarcerated, it is important to stay in touch with them to keep your relationship alive and boost their mental well-being. A great way to foster your connection and bring a smile to their face is to visit them in person. A face-to-face interaction will help your incarcerated loved one be reminded that they are not alone, and help keep your bond alive. However, visiting an incarcerated person is not a simple, spur-of-the-moment, as often as you want type of thing. There are many procedures and protocols you must follow to be able to have a stress free visit. If it’s your first time visiting someone in jail, follow these do’s and don’ts before you go. 

First Time Visiting Someone In Jail

DO: Check the specific facility’s rules

Before making any plans to visit your incarcerated loved one, you must check the rules and regulations of the specific facility where they are being held. You can either check the facility’s website or give them a call if the information is not listed online. This first step is imperative before you move on to planning your visit.

DON’T: Show up unannounced 

Visiting a jail is not like going to the mall, taking a trip to the zoo, or going to grandma’s house—you cannot show up whenever you please. You must schedule a visit ahead of time with the specific facility you are visiting. Typically, there is an approval process each visitor must go through before they can schedule a visit. The facility will have limits on how often you can visit as well. 

DO: Adhere to the rules

The more you follow the rules, the smoother your visit will be. Things like arriving early, bringing the proper documentation, and supervising children are all very important. Doing so will ensure you are allowed to see your incarcerated loved one and that’s the ultimate goal right?

DON’T: Break the dress code

Most jails and prisons have a strict dress code for visitors coming in to see inmates. A general rule of thumb is to avoid tight fitting, see-through, and midriff-baring clothing. Avoid shorts and ripped jeans, and wear closed-toed shoes. You should wear undergarments and socks as well. It is also important to avoid any clothing that could be considered gang related. Also make sure to avoid wearing the same color as the inmates. The color they wear and the specific visitor dress code can usually be found on the facility’s website.  

DO: Talk about the important things

With visits being limited in time and frequency, use this time to talk about the important things with your loved one. Try to avoid sensitive topics like release dates, and focus on what your inmate wants to discuss. Check out more tips on what to talk about with your incarcerated loved one here

DON’T: Bring them any items

To avoid the trading of contraband from guests, it is important to note that you cannot bring your incarcerated loved one any items when you visit. Most facilities will allow you to bring in cash for the vending machines, but will cap it around $20. However, outside gifts, clothing or food will not be allowed inside the facility. 

DO: Send them photos ahead of time through Pelipost

Although you cannot bring items to give your loved one during your visit, you CAN send them photos ahead of time through Pelipost. A physical photo is a cherished item your incarcerated loved one will be able to look back on in between visits. 

Ready to send pictures? You can download the Pelipost app through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

How to Talk to an Inmate for Free

When spending time apart from a loved one, it is important to stay in contact to keep the relationship alive. Texting, phone conversations, and video chats are typically how long-distanced loved ones talk to one another. However, if incarceration is the reason you are apart, there are additional hurdles you must get over in order to communicate. Unfortunately, the options for keeping in contact are limited, and most are not free of charge. In today’s post, we highlight how you can talk to an inmate for free—and other affordable options, too. 

Visiting in Person

The only way to speak to an inmate completely free of charge is by visiting them in person at their facility. An in-person visitation is a great way to connect with your incarcerated loved one, because you can physically see one another and have a face-to-face conversation. Studies have shown that in-person visits from loved ones help an incarcerated individual experience fewer depressive episodes and may even reduce rule-breaking behavior. Becky Calderon, co-founder of Pelipost and formerly incarcerated, says that the visits from friends and family “remind you that you have a life, a purpose, and a meaning.” 

In-person visits are free of charge, however there are essential steps to take before your visit. Typically, facilities require you to be pre-approved, adhere to a strict dress code, and schedule your visit in advance. It is important to check the guidelines for the specific facility your loved one is at to make sure you follow all the rules and regulations. Once you have taken the necessary steps, check out this guide for how to talk to your incarcerated loved one when visiting. 

Visiting in Person

Other Communication Options That Won’t Break the Bank

Just a Collect Call Away

A relatively low-cost way to communicate with your incarcerated loved one is through phone calls. Incarcerated individuals usually receive up to 300 minutes of telephone calls per month, and the calls can be up to 15 minutes long each. Although calls are collect and there will be a fee, speaking on the phone will help you connect with your loved one and brighten their spirits. 

Old-School Letters

In today’s technology-driven world, handwritten letters between friends, families, and lovers are a lost form of communication. A personal note sent to someone in incarceration is a great way to stay connected and talk to them in a way you typically would not. A huge benefit to sending letters is that the incarcerated person can physically hold onto it and go look back at your words when they need to hear them most. Postage is not free and facilities have rules when it comes to letter content, but sending mail is a low cost way to stay connected with your loved one. 

A Picture’s Worth 1000 Words

A step above sending letters and speaking on the phone, while still not breaking the bank, is sending photos through the mail. A photo is a tangible item your incarcerated loved one can keep in their belongings and look at whenever they miss you and want to see your face or reminisce on memories. Pelipost is a very convenient, quick way to send photos to your incarcerated loved one at an affordable cost. To get started with sending photos, you can download the Pelipost app through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.