The Abolition Apostles Newsletter
Letter From a Collective Editor
Hello! I am so excited to be your newsletter editor this month! I have been a prison penpal for almost 4 years now, and volunteering with Abolition Apostles for a little over 3. I mostly deal with financials (if you’re interested in getting involved, please hit me up!) and try to be active in our Slack channel offering advice and experience. I am based in Madison, Wisconsin, which is also home of the Social Justice Center, our organization’s fiscal sponsor. I hope you find this month’s newsletter informative! Thank you so much for reading!
Your January editor,
Contact me at email@example.com or on the AA Slack.
January at Abolition Apostles
We’re in the process of choosing a new name for our collective! Please submit ideas here.
Refer to the calendar website, Slack, and Instagram for any schedule adjustments or additions, and meeting links that haven’t been generated at the time of this letter.
January 22nd (5pm PST/8pm EST): Outside penpal support squad meeting. A lightly facilitated space to reflect on relationships with our penpals and support one another through any challenges we may be facing.
January 23rd (5:30pm PST/8:30pm EST): Brainstorming + Writing Session: Letter re TDCJ policy about incoming mail. This meeting will focus on discussing and taking action about Texas’ new centralized mail policy which has resulted in mail being delayed up to 2 months.
February 6th (5:30pm PST/8:30pm EST): Penpals Backend meeting. This working group coordinates penpal matching, our database and website, and more. Join the meeting to learn how you can be involved.
New Penpal orientations: January 22nd, January 31st, February 12th, and February 26th at 8pm EST.
Volunteering = building community. Talking within your circles about your experience penpalling is huge! Our current wait time for people on the inside to be matched is about 18 months. Every connection helps.
We’d love a few more volunteers trained in our financial process through OpenCollective. It doesn’t really require labor, but we want to spread accountability between multiple stewards.
Check out our website! I also volunteer with LGBT Books to Prisoners, a national project that sends books to incarcerated LGBT people. If your penpal identifies as LGBT, encourage them to write in to receive books! (Unfortunately we are unable to serve the state of Texas).
Pen Pal Spotlight
Donald (Don) B. & Annika L.
Don and I began corresponding in 2021 when he was incarcerated in our local county jail. Since then, Don has been sentenced to 15 years of prison and 10 years of extended supervision. We both live in Wisconsin, where “truth-in-sentencing” laws took away the opportunity for traditional parole for people convicted after 1999. Don is currently 35 years old.
Despite his situation, Don maintains a laid-back, positive attitude. We chat on the phone Wednesday evenings, and hearing Don’s voice always puts a smile on my face. I love hearing about his week and what’s going on with his family. Don is extremely close to his grandmother and has one son that he absolutely adores.
Don is currently working towards earning his high school equivalency diploma, but is frustrated by frequent cancellations of class time due to a teacher shortage in the prison system. To keep his days full, Don took a job working in the prison cafeteria where he serves food to other prisoners. In his free time, he is an avid reader who enjoys mystery and thriller novels. Among his talents are drawing and writing poetry. He is also a lover of coffee.
I have a letter Don sent to me hanging on my fridge. It reads, “A smile is the shortest distance between two people.” I love this quote, and seeing it every day is a wonderful reminder of the steadfast friendship I have built with Don over the years.
A (small) victory: A poll by Vera Action found that voters prefer policies designed to prevent crime over “tough-on-crime” policies designed to punish. Read more.
A setback: Alabama is set to execute its first prisoner using the controversial method of nitrogen gas hypoxia on January 25th. The U.N. human rights office previously issued a statement that they are "concerned that nitrogen hypoxia would result in a painful and humiliating death." Read more.
5-4, “a podcast about how much the Supreme Court sucks” is a favorite of mine, and I recommend every episode, but I want to specifically highlight the episode on Jones v. Mississippi as it is a somewhat recent case and directly related to the work we do as prison abolitionists.
Art From The Inside
I’m so excited to share the holiday card Don sent me! As I said earlier, he is a talented artist specializing in cartoons. The dog’s tongue also moves!