This App Allows Prison Inmates To Stay Connected With Their Families

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By Mandy Froelich / Truth Theory

Just because someone has committed a crime doesn’t mean they are unable to form meaningful and loving relationships. In fact, it generally is quite the opposite. For this reason, that communication between convicts and their friends and family members shouldn’t be a privilege, but a right. Sadly, contacting loved ones from prison can be rare, as well as expensive.  

As GoodNewsNetwork reports, it is not uncommon for a 15-minute phone call in prison to cost $20. In some other facilities, prisoners are charged upwards of 25 cents per minute on the phone and 40 cents per email. Fortunately, a new app designed by ex-convicts aims to change this.

With Pigeonly, users can share photos with inmates simply by taking a picture with their cell phone, then uploading it to the app. The photo is then screened by Pigeonly employees. If approved, the image is sent to the appropriate prison, printed onto paper, and then delivered to the recipient.

Perhaps you’re thinking that the process sounds lengthy and somewhat outdated compared to the technological capabilities of 2019. You wouldn’t be wrong. However, the app improves communication among prison inmates and their loved ones. To many, the achievement is worth applauding.

Pigeonly also offers postcard, letter, and greeting card-sending services. In addition, the “Instagram for Prisons” offers an unlimited phone plan that reduces the price of a call from 25 cents (or more) per minute to a flat rate of $4.99 per month.

Frederick Hudson, an ex-convict, came up with the idea to create Pigeonly after spending 5 years in a federal penitentiary. He told Bloomberg:

I saw first-hand how difficult and expensive it was to stay in touch. I also saw how much of an impact that made on the person behind bars. I would see the guys that had the financial means to stay in touch and when they left prison I would hear that they were doing well, but those who didn’t have the support network on the outside – I’d see them coming back in.”

The observation is a wise one. As GoodNewsNetwork shares, studies have shown that social connectivity decreases the likelihood of recidivism. Strong social ties also increase the chances of employment after release. This benefits society, as taxpayers shoulder the burden of substantial prison costs. Finally, children who maintain a close bond with the parent behind bars are shown to display reduced rates of delinquency and behavioral problems.

To remedy the root cause of mental health disorders and drug abuse, those who are afflicted require more support from their community members. The following TED Talk explores this topic further:

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