Prisoners Across America Have Been Sending Us Letters By The Hundreds

lettersThese are just some of the letters I received.

Photo: Daniel Goodman / Business Insider

A couple of months ago I sent requests through WriteAPrisoner.com to speak with inmates and their families about how prison affects their lives.

The response I received was astounding. Hundreds of inmates wrote me, desperate to share their stories of life behind bars.

I wrote longer stories based on some of these letters: why Daniel Miller felt he had to join the Aryan Brotherhood;  how Brad Newman learned to survive in prison at age 11; how one woman fell in love with a convicted murder she had never met; how Carlos Carluzzo fled to Mexico rather than live in the US as a sex criminal; why Anthony Smalls thinks so many veterans end up in jail.

So far I’ve read only a fraction of the letters I received, though I’m working through them. Of course the letters may keep coming.

Roughly 2.3 million people are held in state and federal prisons in the U.S, with another 4.9 million people under supervision. That is by far the highest incarceration rate in the world.

For Andre Lee, it isn't about giving up but about changing his perspective. While he believes he's innocent, not everyone will share his views. He knows he needs to realise that and accept he cannot change the way people see his situation.

Michael Sanders claims the police abused him before coercing him into copping to a murder and a rape he didn't commit.

Refugio Ruben Cardenas had to become an adult at the age of 7 when his mother left to enter the prison system.

Some inmates, like Bill Clark, used their letters not to discuss life in prison but to publicize books or plays they had written.

Rufus Casanova Love III calls himself a freedom fighter who's in a deadly struggle against his 30-plus year sentence for tampering with bank systems.

Robert Fratta believes our criminal justice system is so corrupt that it's time to create an entirely new government.

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