Here To Help: Learn To Respect A Prisoner’s Wishes
Over the weekend, we received a question from a woman who had been communicating with someone in prison. I was talking to someone in prison for a few months, she wrote, but then he ghosted me. Her question was simple: Why?
There are countless answers to that simple question. Some of them are equally simple but scary. For example, the prisoner could have been moved to solitary confinement. On the other hand, some of the answers are more complicated. And it’s these answers that are often hard for people on the outside to accept.
This article addresses those complicated, hard-to-accept answers. The reality is that, sometimes, incarcerated people decide that they don’t want to communicate with certain people on the outside. So it’s important for us to learn to respect a prisoner’s wishes.
Why would an incarcerated person stop communicating with us?
As indicated above, there are a lot of simple but scary reasons why you might stop hearing from an incarcerated person abruptly. If a prisoner moves to solitary confinement or loses phone privileges for a period of time, communication stops almost immediately.
Even more scary for those who have had loved ones in prison is the possibility that their loved one was injured. Sometimes, if incarcerated people are injured, they will go to the hospital or solitary confinement for their safety, which can prevent communication as well.
But, other times, incarcerated people may simply choose to stop communicating with you. As you likely know if you are reading this, time behind bars can be tough — on the people inside and out. This can have consequences on relationships, including yours.
What does a decision to respect a prisoner’s wishes look like?
If an incarcerated person stops communicating with you, you obviously want to know why. Most of the time, it’s okay to ask. If it’s because of time in solitary, time without phone privileges or time in a hospital, there’s a pretty good chance the incarcerated person will eventually tell you about that.
But if they don’t tell you or stop responding altogether, it’s important to respect a prisoner’s wishes. The reality is that people end relationships for a lot of reasons. According to some studies, the average person only has 29 real friends and loses many of those to arguments, different lifestyles and randomness.
These reasons apply to people in prison, too. After all, incarcerated people are people. And the assumption that they won’t go through the same kind of relationship changes that all of us experience is a harmful one.
Whether it’s a new relationship or a continuing one, a relationship with an incarcerated person is complicated. From the perspective of people on the outside, we often see ourselves as doing something for the incarcerated person by staying in touch with them. But this is a harmful assumption.
Rather than viewing the relationship as a one-way benefit to the incarcerated person, we need to understand that relationships with incarcerated people aren’t particularly different from other relationships. And if an incarcerated person chooses to stop communicating with you, it’s important to learn to respect a prisoner’s wishes.