One thing we all hope to never experience in life is incarceration. We don’t set out as children dreaming of a life in prison. Nobody ever says, “I want to grow up and go to jail.” That doesn’t mean this doesn’t happen. People make mistakes. While some of us give into evil impulses, others commit crimes because we feel we have no other choice. This doesn’t make all of us bad people. It means that we’re going through a rough patch and could use some help. What can the families and friends of those accused or convicted of crimes do to help?
One way to support your friends and family when they’re accused of a crime is to listen to them to see what help they need. While some will need the name of a good lawyer, others will need help finding a local bail bondsman so they can get out of jail while waiting for their trial. If your friend or family member admits his or her guilt, try not to judge too quickly. Listen to the circumstances, encourage remorse and ask about possible reparations.
It’s so difficult for friends and family to see a loved one go to jail. Prison isn’t meant to be a vacation; it’s a time of punishment and rehabilitation. One thing that hurts an inmate mentally is their isolation from friends and family. While it seems old fashioned, writing physical letters to your loved one while in prison can be a life-line for him or her. Some jails have email systems in place so that your contact can be more frequent. Phone calls and visits are still allowed. Be sure to check with your loved one’s facility for the specific rules on contact so you can stay connected.
Supporting your loved ones through bad times in their lives starts with listening to their needs.