In leading up to Love Your Inmate Day, August 8th, 2020, we’re sharing the benefits of staying connected with incarcerated loved ones and highlighting one man’s journey.
Take a moment to think about the domino effect that occurs when someone goes to prison. It impacts, not only the incarcerated, but his/her family, community, co-workers, and others.
For the incarcerated, emotions can range from fear to anger to high levels of anxiety in anticipation of the unknown. These emotions often stay bottled up looking for any possible escape. Similarly, loved ones experience so many emotions as they adapt to their new situations without their loved ones.
For these reasons, you can see how critical it is for those incarcerated and loved ones to stay connected. They need to have an outlet to share these pent up emotions. It goes without saying, that given the limited interaction in prison, staying connected with loved ones has numerous benefits for those incarcerated. We would like to highlight some in particular…
Staying connected can prevent institutionalization by reminding loved ones of the freedoms that exist, giving them much needed hope, inspiration, and validation.
Two-way communication provides families and friends with the insight and opportunity to understand what their loved one is going through, leading to more thoughtful conversations.
Better connectivity means those incarcerated have a better chance of successfully integrating back into their family and community upon release.
The memories that are missed by those incarcerated often serve as powerful reminders and mental motivation, so they are less likely to be a repeat offender.
Most importantly, staying connected makes those incarcerated feel human, cared about, and heard.
Over the next few days, we’ll be sharing the journey and story of Tyrone Toliver, an inmate at Ironwood State Prison (CA). His life of self-proclaimed gang-banging changed when he found his outlet to connect with others. Tyrone is now able to talk about the topics that he was too scared to talk about when he was first incarcerated.
The Pelipost Team had a busy holiday season from our Giving Tuesday campaign to sponsoring the XO Factor, Inc. Adopt-A-Family event. Pelipost is proud to give back to multiple organizations who help families impacted by incarceration.
Did you know….
1-in-28 American children have an incarcerated parent.
Making a Difference
Bethany McNeil is the founder of XO Factor, Inc., a non-profit organization with a mission to assist men, women, children, and families in rebuilding their lives after incarceration. With that being said, they are able to provide returning citizens with the services, support, and skills needed to become employed and self-sufficient.
Pelipost was a proud sponsor of the XO Factor, Inc. Adopt-A-Family event which provides children with gifts from their incarcerated parents. The Pelipost Team attended the event on December 16, 2019 to wrap gifts that would ultimately be delivered to children during the holidays.
Our CEO, Joseph Calderon, and our COO, Becky Calderon, shared their personal story with incarceration and how it effects all parties involved. They also brought awareness to the importance of staying connected to your incarcerated loved ones. Photos are a great way to share life’s special moments.
It brought great joy to our hearts to connect with families who have used XO Factor as a resource to better their lives upon release. Listening to the speakers share their experiences with recidivism and how they’ve made a point to give back to the community was amazing. We left the event truly inspired and ready to make an even bigger difference in 2020. Thank you XO Factor for all your great work in our community!
Pelipost is more than an app devoted to printing pictures for your incarcerated loved ones. We believe in the importance of family reintegration far exceeds the physical product in hand. REMAINING CONNECTED is the BIGGER PICTURE.
In this second post in our two-part blog series we continue chatting with our co-founder, Becky Calderon, and explore the significant importance PRINTED photos had with motivation in mind. Make sure to check out Part 1 of the blog series also!
“Give me a reason to fight!”
Preventing Recidivism From Prison
Did you know the United States has one of the highest recidivism rates in the world? Roughly 76% of our incarcerated loved ones return to prison within the first five years of their release. The reasons vary from person to person but here are some common reasons for recidivism:
Lack of Employment- due to criminal record or lack of employable skills
Incarceration doesn’t fix the addiction (trauma coping)
Mental Health & Wellness
Overwhelmed by Reintegration into Society
Influences and Lifestyle Choices
When I was in the maximum-security prison, I shared a cell with 8 other women. We were each in there for a variety of reasons but we all had one thing in common: Trauma. We are all suffering from some form of unspoken trauma rooted at the core of our identities. For some, these scenarios lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms (poor decision making, addiction, co-dependent relationships, etc) and if left unresolved continue to repeat themselves.
With that said, most of the incarcerated individuals I shared space with were familiar with life behind bars. It wasn’t their first experience and it wouldn’t be there last either. To my surprise, there were so many mothers sharing the same facility as their adult daughters. These families grow old together behind bars while their children and grandchildren await their return. Unfortunately, nothing changes when they are released so they return over and over again.
Photos Reminded Me of My Motivation
I remember vividly thinking: “I REFUSE to end up back in here and end my life on a negative note.” As much as photos validated my life outside of prison…. they also reminded me that I had a reason to fight for a better life once I was released.
The most painful day of my life wasn’t the day I was sentenced… it was actually the day of my son’s graduation from college. For me to be in prison on that day was the ultimate punishment. All his little life, I only had one goal! To see him succeed into adulthood and graduate college. Every little award ceremony, sports game, you name it…. I was in attendance taking photos and beaming with pride. To miss Joseph’s college graduation day was like MISSING THE ULTIMATE REWARD. Thus, you can imagine the importance having those photos from that day would have on my spirit.
I used pictures as the foundational reminder to do the WORK while I was doing my time. What is ‘Work’, you ask? There are countless programs, intensive support groups and resources available while you’re in prison. These programs are free but there is one stipulation: YOU HAVE TO WANT HELP to GET HELP! I remember one program that really made me deal with some heavy things from my past. I had to face my childhood trauma head on and it was painful. People don’t want to dig that deep because it hurts. If I wanted to get well and prepare for a healthy life outside of prison, I knew I needed to truly seek healing in my heart. Because of my son’s involvement (through photos, calls and visits) I remained motivated to use my time in prison to prepare for a healthier life outside. Some of my “cellies” didn’t have the same family support and their lack of motivation was a result. Without encouragement, nothing motivates them to change.
My Prison Story Led Me to Purpose
Do I regret my choices? Sure. However, looking back, I can honestly say I am grateful for my time in prison. It changed my life. Prison led me to even greater purpose. Without my prison experience, Joseph never would have had the idea for Pelipost. I wouldn’t be living the good, healthy, sober life I’m living now and for that I don’t regret a single day.
With that said, you might speculate that I just walked out of prison and lived happily ever after. That would be a lie. I got out in May and hit rock bottom by October. I was dealing with the consequences of my choices in real life and it hurt. My drinking returned, my marriage was unrepairable, and I was dependent on my parents to support me. The thing they don’t prepare you for with your release… is that you still COME OUT A FAILURE. Then again, thanks to the resources I received in prison… I knew I HAD TO MAKE A CHOICE and that rock-bottom moment was the most humbling, life-altering reminder that I was worth the fight! Seven years later… I’m living a life I never would have imagined in my wildest dreams. Your incarcerated loved one could be too, just encourage them to push through and do the WORK!
Don’t forget to send your incarcerated loved ones photos this holiday season! You can download the Pelipost app through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.
We’re working hard behind the scenes preparing for all of your upcoming photo orders. Be sure to upload your photos quickly so they will arrive in time for the holidays. You can download the Pelipost app through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. With that said, in the spirit of the giving season, we have some BIG NEWS! We’re excited to announce the Pelipost Gives Back efforts that we’ll be organizing for this Giving Tuesday!
Pelipost will donate $500 to (3) charitable organizations and each will receive (25) Love Never Gives Up braceletsfrom our Love Your Inmate Day Collection. These organizations will be nominated by YOU and MUST serve families of incarcerated loved ones. In addition to our $500 donations, Pelipost will be donating a portion of sales from every photo order placed on GIVING TUESDAY (December 3).
We need your help!
We’re depending on YOU to help us find these charitable organizations. Please take a moment to NOMINATE YOUR FAVORITE CHARITY in the form below. We’ll be announcing the 3 winning charities on Giving Tuesday, December 3rd.