We believe the below excerpt from write-a-prisoner explains our philosophy equally as well…
If there is hope for change behind prison walls, there is hope for change everywhere. We have received letters and emails from released inmates telling us how this service was a turning point in their lives. To call that “rewarding” is an understatement. Indeed, many people who come to this site have learned that they are the turning point in someone’s life. Prison doesn’t offer much in terms of positive influences. Inmates keep up appearances for other inmates so they don’t appear weak. Many inmates will only let their guard down and be human when dealing with people on the outside.
Critics of F.I.T.E will often point to the fact that we are a commercial endeavor. It is important to note that income allows us to do what we do. We have 160 work hours going into this site each week on mail processing, typing profiles and development. This is not volunteer work, and none of this would be here without income. Also, I am not here just to earn a living. I have exchanged hundreds of letters with friends and loved ones in prison long before ever starting this. I had a great uncle who died in a U.S. prison 40 years ago. The guards claimed he committed suicide by hanging himself with his sheet. The autopsy showed he was beaten to death. A letter smuggled out from an inmate to my great-grandmother claimed the guards did it and then dragged his body by their cells as a warning to other inmates. I have a mother who helped launch the first literacy program in the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections nearly 30 years ago because tutors were afraid to go inside to tutor the illiterate adults there.
I have childhood friends who will never leave prison. One who was a timid and good kid is now serving life for murder here in Florida. He originally went to prison on a lesser offense. When he came home, he was different, and I later found out why. Once released, he killed another young man over a simple argument. Before this, I ran into him at the state college, and he was trying to get his life back on track. My preferred memory of him is still as the boy who stashed my bike in the woods and pedaled me miles home on his handlebars when I cut my foot open on an oyster bed as we were dragging a sand net in the Indian River. We were maybe ten or eleven years old, and it is a reminder – to me, at least – that a person should not be judged on their worst deed. I am not one-sided on this, and I have met many good people in corrections who also want to see these people have an opportunity and a chance to succeed and grow as human beings.