The letters trickle into our mailbox sporadically, but sometimes in bursts. All are requests from prisoners for personal advertisements and solicitations for pen pals to be published in City Weekly
It isn’t hard to imagine that prisoners are lonely, that they’d like a letter or two to help the time pass, or that they would enjoy making some friendly connections for the day when they are set free. But one thing in particular sets these handwritten requests apart: The letters are never penned by Utah inmates. Almost always, they come from prisoners of the Idaho Department of Correction.
Two weeks ago, Jen Sayer, prisoner No. 84384, mailed a letter from a correctional facility in Boise, Idaho. A couple days later, a pink envelope arrived from the Pocatello Women’s Correctional Center. Inside, a pair of letters from Kristina Brewster, No. 115789 and DeEtte Heaton, No. 50482, were folded together.
While most letters are brief, offering little more than the usual bits of biographical info, including “fun-loving female,” other writers reveal much more. Brewster, 27, says she likes to fish and spend time outside. She also enjoys reading.
But what is it about Idaho that makes prisoners reach out? Are they lonelier? More outgoing? Or is there simply a list of news publications hanging on some cold wall, where City Weekly
’s address is one of many?
Jeff Ray, a public information officer for the Idaho Department of Correction, said as much on the topic as he cared to in a brief email: “The Idaho Department of Corrections does not facilitate nor encourage inmates to seek pen pals.”
Brooke Adams, who is Ray's counterpart in the Utah Department of Corrections, was even more brief. But, she specifically responded to whether or not the UDC somehow discourages, or blocks access to, media contacts: “We do not have any policies restricting inmates from contacting media for any purpose,” she wrote.
Short of any official word on the matter, we are left to wonder why the lonely letters seeking companionship, friendship or just correspondence all arrive from north of the border .
Sans printed advertisements, here are three recent letters in their entirety.
I was wondering if you could run
the following ad in your newspaper
for a pen-pal please? If you could
run it for two weeks that’d be great!
My name is Kristina and I’m
looking for a pen-pal. I’m 27 years
old and have about 9 months left of
my sentence. I’m doing my time in
Boise, Id. I’m 5’ 2” and have curly,
shoulder length brown hair. I love to
read, Patterson, Robb and Mary-Higgins
Clark are some of my favorite authors.
I love being outside and love to
fish. I’ve never had a pen-pal before
but would like to get to know new
people. If you would like to talk
please write me at
Kristina Brewster #115789
PO Box 8509
Boise, Id 83707
To whom it may concern
Please place following ad in Salt Lake Weekly personals
Single fun loving 42 year
old female look for pen pal
Friendship and more. If
interested please write.
DeEtte Heaton 50482
Po Box 8509
Boise, ID 83707
Please place add in Salt Lake Weekly
Hi My name is Jen Sayer. I am a 31 year
Old fun loving single female looking for
Friendships and more. If you want to know
more write me at
Jen Sayer #84384
PO Box 8509
Boise, ID 83707