US Inmates Fund Non Profit Adopt An Inmate Website Relaunch for the Second Time in Five Years
By: Adopt An Inmate
"We hope that people begin to change their perceptions about people in prison," said Melissa Schmitt, She-EO and co-founder of Adopt an Inmate. "People are in prison for a variety of reasons, but those reasons are rarely, if ever, a good reason to label them inhuman, unworthy, or incapable of compassion and mercy."
Since 2015, Adopt An Inmate has connected free individuals with over 1,600 people in prison, logged more than 19,000 volunteer hours, and received over 30,000 letters from people in prison, housed in over 1,000 prisons and jails across the country.
Adopt an Inmate was founded by a reluctant insider of the criminal justice system and his family, during an unexpected year-and-a-half stay in a Texas county jail. What began by delivering messages from inmates to their families who could not afford the cost of prison phone calls, grew into a larger effort to "adopt" indigent and forgotten inmates who have no support. After funding fell through for a new website in 2017, inmates in Washington State banded together to help raise the funds for the project. Now in 2021, prisoners in many states have sent in donations to launch an updated website.
Many prisoners are especially hard-hit by Covid-19. In most facilities, visitation has been closed since March of 2020, and many prisoners are ill and and forced into quarantine or isolation - making their contributions that much more impressive and appreciated.
This year, AI volunteers helped inmates in multiple states file and receive CARES Act stimulus checks. Several set aside some of the proceeds to help AI in return.
Much of the content of AI's website is provided by people in prison and those who have been released, including AI's executive director, who was released on parole in May of 2019.
Adoptaninmate.org features art and writing from prisoners all over the country - giving voice to thousands of forgotten human beings who are locked away with no agency. It also publishes the only state-by-state listing of correspondence and visitation rules. With no budget, no salaries, no dedicated office space, and a small army of angel volunteers, AI continues to process 300+ letters every week from male and female prisoners of every age, color, and creed, from every state in the nation.
Adopt An Inmate's mission is to remind the world and those caught in the grip of the justice system that both accused and adjudicated are human, to provide relief, comfort, and hope to those facing judgement, and to help those sentenced emerge from prison whole, knowing they are part of a larger family that loves and cares for them. What began as one family's story has grown into a dedicated community of angels on both sides of the prison walls, who share the same mission.
Visit https://adoptaninmate.org to volunteer as an adopter or as a helper behind the scenes.