We founded Pelipost from a family’s real experience with incarceration. We know how difficult the experience can be because we’ve lived it from both sides. A major part of our mission is sharing perspectives from the incarcerated and their families in order to support our community. We sat down with TikTok’s Ashley Martinez to hear how this former prison wife coped with her husband’s incarceration, her advice for loved ones, and supporting others in the Prison Wives communities on social media. We believe that voices like Ashley’s can be a powerful tool to help us shatter the stigma of having a loved one incarcerated. This also helps us in the fight to keep real photos in our loved one’s hands. You can follow Ashley on TikTok at @ashllllllay_ashes.
Hey, guys. My name is Ashley. Most of you may know me on TikTok as @ashllllllay_ashes, former prison wife. My husband served a two year and nine month sentence in prison on a six year sentence. He is out on parole. He got out September 9th of 2021. I’m going to answer a couple of questions.
How did sending photos help you and your husband stay connected through his incarceration?
I made sure that my husband had tons and tons and tons of pictures. In that way, it gave him a sense of freedom while being incarcerated. And that’s something that they appreciate the most. Other than talking on the phone, of course. So, yes, it is very important that you all send pictures.
What advice would you give someone who is experiencing having a loved one incarcerated?
Dealing with someone who is incarcerated is overwhelming, and it’s just so stressful. One of the main things, while my husband was incarcerated, that we worked on was trust and communication. If you don’t have trust and communication when dealing with a relationship, of course it’s going to be very, very hard. Always let them know that you’re waiting for them, you support them, and anything that they do when they get out, you’re going to be there to help them. So that way they don’t ever go back. Just speak positivity into them and let them know that they have someone who actually cares about them. Because a lot of the times when they go to prison, they feel like everybody just turns their back on them and that’s not cool.
Tell us about the Prison Wives community on TikTok and social media. How did these communities help support you during your husband’s incarceration?
So back in 2019, my husband got arrested and sentenced. I didn’t start my TikTok until 2020. At that time, I didn’t really see anybody on TikTok doing the Prison Wife thing. So I had a conversation with my cousin and she told me to start posting and overnight, maybe in a couple of days, my videos were going viral. I was supportive, helpful, and motivational to a lot of women out there because I spoke and still speak a lot of positive things. When dealing with this situation, we already get enough backlash from everybody else. They actually helped me keep going because it was helping them. What you pour out is what you give in, you know? And me posting videos continued, because I loved helping people and being supportive, being motivational, being encouraging. So that’s one of the things that kept me going- the other prison wives kind of looking up to me in a sense.
Like I said, you do have a lot of people that are negative towards our situation and it’s just different when you have somebody who you can relate to and who’s not going to judge you for loving a person who simply because they’re incarcerated.
Why do you believe it’s important to reduce the stigma of having a friend, family member, or a partner incarcerated?
Having somebody incarcerated, you’re already going to get a lot of backlash, whether you’re in a relationship or whether you’re just there supporting a family member, being there for them as emotional support while they’re going through their sentence. You always get, “Oh, they’re just going to go back in.” The vast majority do go back in, but there’s always that small percentage that actually go in there and utilize their resources to become a better person, if not for themselves and for the people that love them.
Some of the smartest men come out of prison. They go in there and they utilize their resources. They go get their certificates, they get their degrees, they go to the law library and they gain knowledge, and some people really do change their life in there. And I feel like everybody shouldn’t judge one person off of what they went to prison for, because if they’re in prison, they’re serving their time. Once they get out and they’re changed, they shouldn’t be judged on their past. And that’s one thing that I really do have a problem with, because once you’re in the system, it’s hard to get out of. It’s hard to see someone in a different light. Nobody wants to see people change for some reason. And it’s hard for them to accept and grasp the fact that people actually do get out, and do better than probably people who have never even been in prison.
I just feel like society needs to accept the fact that once someone gets out of prison and they paid their debt to society, you should no longer hold their past against them. It should no longer hinder you from trying to prosper and get ahead in life.
If you are interested in sharing your experience with family incarceration or how the Pelipost app has helped you stay connected, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org