For the 42-year-old single mother, the afternoon ritual began as it always did: She started with Ok Cupid, then skimmed through Match.com, e Harmony, and Zoosk, rejecting hopeful suitors at each juncture.Then, she spotted something unfamiliar: a sidebar ad for a website called Write Profiles of prison inmates lined the page, each listed with a photo, age, sexuality, religion, and crime committed.From there, it’s up to fate; with no way to initiate contact, prisoners must patiently wait for letters.For this service, inmates pay a one-time fee of , plus a yearly renewal.Many prison pen pal romances play out this way: They begin innocently and platonically, then—typically within 4 to 6 months—transition into something deeper. She’d only select an inmate who committed his crime a long time ago, and who lived in a faraway state.Heather, a 46-year-old divorced mother and pediatric nurse, came across Write APrisoner accidentally, in the course of Googling a friend’s criminal history. Her first selection was Kirk*, a man eight years her junior.
“A lot of the men on our site go in looking for love, but the romantic stories are rare.” Regardless of motivation, getting a profile on Write APrisoner is pretty straightforward: An inmate writes to the website, which responds with an application and a thick brochure containing “rules, guidelines, and tips for writing a good profile.” Once submitted, the information—a 250-word biography and a photo—is published to the Internet, alongside a contact address and the crime committed.
His crime, aiding and abetting murder in the first degree, had landed him life without parole in a Texas prison—but he wasn’t ready to give up on finding love. “When I saw this man—this hulking, sexy man—and read his profile, I thought to myself, ‘I guess all the good ones are in prison! “I was intrigued, so I decided to write him and take a chance.”She emailed Alberto via the website, which then printed her message and mailed a copy to him in prison.
Three weeks later, she received his reply in the mail.
Right” or “searching for my soulmate”) were, on average, 86 percent less likely to get mail than those seeking friendship.
He warns inmates to tone down the “romance” language—yet hopeful Romeos persist.