During my pledge semester in the Fall of 2018, my pledge project group worked with Prisoner Express to create a service project concerning prisoner reform. Members of my PPG and myself had worked with Prisoner Express before. Collectively we had participated in the journal project, art pen pals, book packing, and the theme/poetry typing project, so we thought it would be great to collaborate with this organization in a unique way.
We contacted Gary, the coordinator of Prisoner Express, and asked what we could help with. He relayed that he was having issues with letters and packages being returned from the prisons. Since prisoners must pay for their stamps, never receiving a letter or package in return due to logistical errors becomes costly for them. The rules for sending letters and packages to prisons is different for each state. What we were able to do for Gary and Prisoner Express was compile an excel spreadsheet of all the regulations surrounding the sending of letters and packages. We did this by researching each states’ Department of Corrections’ incoming mail procedure. Although we weren’t directly interacting with prisoners, we knew the work we were doing was important and would help the organization run more smoothly. Instead of looking at our pledge project as busy work, we saw it as an opportunity to better an already very impactful organization.
The compilation of our research will save Prisoner Express and prisoners both time and resources. Since there was a specific task that Gary wanted us to accomplish, the service project was not indefinite. We completed the project within the given time frame of the event. However, I would encourage anyone interested in deepening their involvement in Prisoner Express to contact Gary, who is very friendly and willing to work with eager APO members, to see how else one can contribute to the organization.