In addition to sending donated books to inmates, the Freethought Books Project operates a pen pal program, allowing freethinkers outside of prison to correspond with inmates. Since starting our work with the initiative in December 2013, the Freethought Books Project has received over 40 requests for pen pals.
Currently, we are in need of more freethinking volunteers. You can qualify if you identify as an atheist, agnostic, humanist, skeptic, or the like, and would be willing to correspond with an imprisoned individual on a regular (approximately monthly) basis.
In order to protect volunteers’ privacy, and the privacy of our inmates, we send all letters through a PO Box at the Center for Inquiry in Amherst, NY.
Here’s how the process works:
- Send us an email at email@example.com expressing your interest. Include preferences—whether or not you would like a freethinker (some of our pen pal requests are from religious individuals), age, and gender. We may not be able to accommodate requests, but we will try.
- Read the attached document (PDF) with guidelines for volunteer pen pals.
- We will send you a scanned letter from your pen pal. Read it to learn about your pen pal. Some letters have tons of detail—others not so much.
- Type or write a response. You can either email us a typed response in an attached word document or mail a letter to our Amherst address. We would prefer typed responses. We will send that letter to your inmate pen pal for you.
- Once we get a letter back, we’ll scan and email and you’ll write a reply, and continue the process! You should expect correspondence to happen about once a month.
If you’re willing to commit—and would like to sign up—send us an email to get started!