How does the network work?
You can sign up as a pen pal, through our sign up form here. Once you’ve signed up, you can write to a person in prison, using our PCN ReConnect system. If you want to respond to a request you see, you simply write an introductory letter to the person you want to write to. All mail, sent and returned, is routed through PCN – we email you the return letters from within prisons.
Would my pen pal have my details?
We do not disclose your email address, surname or any other identifying details. How much to reveal about yourself is up to you. We do need you to sign off your letters to make sure that correspondence is sent to the right person, but you are welcome to use a pseudonym or nickname.
How do I sign my incarcerated friend/family member up?
If you want an incarcerated friend or family member to be put on our new pen pal requests list, give them this form to fill out and send in to our postal address, provided in the top right of the form.
Can I write to more than one pen pal?
PCN does not put a limit on how many pen pals you can write to. That said, when a pen pal gets a response we remove them from the new pen pal request list. For this reason we ask that you be conscious of your capacity to maintain a correspondence relationship with your pen pals, and not take on more than you can.
I don’t want to write to a rapist, murderer, CSO etc.
We absolutely understand that people have their own reasons for not wanting to write to individuals who have committed particular offences and do not expect pen pals to correspond with individuals they are uncomfortable with. However, PCN does not ask for or keep records of the offences of our pen pals. Some pen pals will disclose their offence in their introduction, or you can ask your pen pal to disclose to you directly. If you are uncomfortable with continuing correspondence with a particular pen pal, let us know and we will end the correspondence.
I only want to write to a woman/do not want to write to men in prison
Due to the fact that there is a higher number of men in prison in Aotearoa, the majority of pen pals are men. We are still in the process of expanding into women’s prisons, however do occasionally get women and non-binary prisoners writing in. As PCN does not have separate lists of pen pals based on gender, we recommend keeping an eye out for women or non-binary pen pals in our fortnightly new pen pal request lists.
What do I do if my pen pal is being inappropriate/crossing boundaries?
If your pen pal has said anything that is inappropriate or has crossed a boundary, we recommend explicitly telling them this is the case and that they need to cease. If you are uncomfortable asserting boundaries, let us know and we can assist. If you feel like you no longer want to write to your pen pal, let us know and we will end the correspondence.
What do I do if I no longer want to write to my pen pal?
You have no obligation to continue correspondence with a pen pal if you are no longer able to do so or no longer feel comfortable with the pen pal relationship. If this is the case, please let us know so that we can end the correspondence.
Can PCN facilitate mail after release?
PCN does not facilitate mail following the release of incarcerated pen pals. If you or your pen pal wish to maintain contact, we encourage exchanging contact details directly prior to release, or immediately following.
Can I send my pen pal a gift or property?
If you wish to send your pen pal a gift or property we recommend exchanging details directly as PCN does not offer this service. Corrections requires that all incarcerated people have their belongings pre-approved, for this reason you will need to ask your pen pal to fill out one of Corrections’ “Request for Property” forms before sending them any personal possessions.
Can I send handwritten letters?
Unfortunately, PCN doesn’t have the resources to send through handwritten letters from you to your pen pal.
If you do not want to share your contact details but your pen pal is happy to give you their address in prison, you are welcome to mail hand written letters to them directly with the PCN address as your return address.
Can I sign up if I am under 18?
For safety reasons we do not facilitate correspondence from pen pals under 18.