Family and Friends


John PolkThe need for bonding is strong in just about every living creature that exists on the planet. Marriage is about bonding…at root level the military is about bonding…all the “isms” in the world are about bonding too. This is not the place to discuss the complexities of prison clannishness since the rules are not at all the same as they are for people in the free world. Nevertheless, the major point here is that people, most typically, have a desire and so a drive to be with those they love and who love them.

Being separated from one’s close relatives, spouses and others that inmates care about (except for occasional visits and short—very expensive—phone calls) is an extension of the prisoner’s punishment. Many prisoners will say that this doesn’t matter because no one gives a damn about them anyway. Because this can be true, at least to one extent or another, we will be talking about the unloved inmate later but most captives have people on the outside who love and care about them—mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, wives, husbands, children and close friends .Someone!

This isolation from those-who-care is a primitive punishment and actually does more harm, in the long run, than a more lenient system when it applies to visiting and communication privileges with family members whose only motive is to support the inmate emotionally and psychologically.

While “prisoner isolation” is most typically thought of as “just punishment,” the sadness, fear and uncertainties of family members on the outside is generally overlooked. Indeed, “suffering wives/husbands/moms/dads/children is thought of in terms of collateral damage; if the inmate didn’t want their parents, spouses or children to suffer their absence than they should not have broken the law in the first place.

While, in many cases, this is a valid overview, in many other cases it is not. Remember, it is The Love Factor view that breaking the law is NOT (always) a criminal act. Criminal acts must have a victim! There are 100s of 1000s inmates who have only broken the law and should not be turned into felons at all.

With the above aside, however, countless prisoners’ families endure much pain and suffering with worry, concern and yes, loneliness. After all, their lives have been fragmented and, in ways, imprisoned too.

We at The Love Factor are working on an alternative to the current system that now exists for inmates and those that love and care about them; one that we believe will be far more productive than the one that now exists in prisons across the country. It is obviously a challenging project and extremely complex. Where we can begin, however, is finding out what the family member is experiencing with someone that they love in prison.

If you are one amidst the millions who has a loved one behind bars please share your story with us. How has your life in the free world been altered…what are your major challenges? You can write us in the box below or email us at

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