Moya Atkinson, Co-coordinator, Social Workers Against Solitary Confinement
October 10, 2017

Awhile ago I volunteered to be a pen pal  to someone in solitary, and contacted Stop Solitary’s Lifelines to Solitary. Solitary Watch’s amazing volunteer, Marlies Talay forwarded me the name of a prisoner currently in a New York State prison. “A” and I had a couple of exchanges, broken by long periods of silence, one due to my negligence. I felt awkward and stupid, not knowledgeable about sports or possibly anything that “A” might be interested in….

We wrote back and forth rather stiltedly a couple of times.   After not hearing from him for a couple of months, I thought he might have given up on me. How wrong I was! In beautifully handwritten script he wrote me the following, which I received today:
Hello! I hope your holidays were safe and sound. Did you travel anywhere? I am at a medical unit and we were moved to another prison, why I don’t know? I saw two people killed and stopped another, my mental condition dropped and I lost it plus two gang members are now after me as they are now going to kill me, so I am now under the protection of the prison officials. The gangs think I am a rat, they think I told it, I will be under the protection of prison officials until I get out of prison.

Do you read the Bible? I do, along with other books, so I was glad to get your letter, as I like to write, do you?

As for computers, I don’t know how to use one, but one day soon I will learn to, here in this state, they (D.O.C.) don’t allow it. If you got a t.v. then you can watch certain shows as allowed, such as the history channels, AMC, sci-fi, etc. etc.? I don’t, or didn’t have one until I got to this prison, and since I am poor (indigent), they gave me one.

About your question, have I lived in ___. All my life? Yes, but I have went to school and worked in New Mexico, Kansas, Arkansas, and Texas for short times. I do want to travel when I get out plus finish school, have you done these things?

Do you like to cook? What is your favorite dish?

Tell me about NYC?

Sorry it took so long to write back, well Moya, I’m going to sign off for now, take care and keep safe.
Sincerely, “A”.
I am so glad we both persevered! Want to join me and create a chapter within SWASC? Or join a chapter through ACSW or in your own location?  Please be in touch!