Twice a year, an inmate can get a Florida Inmate Package. The catalog includes food, clothing, shoes, toiletries and electronics
Ms. Kat is an older inmate (60's) who has no one on the outside and she is in for life. When we were deciding who to get packages for, my daughter said "definitely, Ms. Kat". Miss Kat has to go around begging for soap, shampoo, toilet paper and so forth as the freebies you get in prison are motel size. So we decided to surprise her. Sadie had overheard Ms. Kat saying to someone, "do you think I will ever get a package?". Ms. Kat rarely spoke with anyone, was not good at keeping herself clean (you need soap!) and walked around with her head down.
So when the packages came and her name was called out, it did not register at first and she missed it and had to wait another week. The inmates empty their pillowcase to go get their packages. Well Ms. Kat would not put her pillowcase down. It went everywhere with her. She would wait in line and try to convince property to give her package to her but they said she had to wait. Carrying around her pillow case was also to let everyone know that she was getting a package.
So Ms. Kat finally got her package (s) and was so happy and excited that she had a stroke (my daughter and I had joked earlier that we hoped Ms. Kat didn't have a heart attack when she got her package). Then we heard that she had died. We felt bad but knew she died happy. Then we heard that she didn't die and was in a coma (prisons are rumor mills). As it turned out, she was in a coma for 6 days. We thought she would be in very bad shape now that she survived a stroke.
Well, Ms. Kat eventually came back to the dorm. My daughter Sadie said "mom, I wish you could see this!". Ms. Kat was a totally different person; no effects from the stroke. She walked with her head up, talked to people and asked how their families were. Sadie says she keeps herself clean and goes to church every Wednesday after never having gone before. Realizing that someone cared about her, completely changed Ms. Kat's outlook on life.
There are many inmates who have no support on the outside-no emotional support and/or no monetary support. Many come from poor families. When they need more pads for their periods than what they are given by the state, they have no way to buy more. When they have no more toilet paper (the state does not give each person that much) they have no options; the same with toiletries. The packages are a way to give an indigent inmate access to things they would never normally have like clothes, toiletries, hygiene products, radios and so forth. It is a very difficult time at the prison when packages are handed out. The inmates who do not get packages have to watch the other inmates be excited and thrilled to receive their packages. It causes a lot of emotional pain and there tends to be a lot of acting out during that time. It is like being a kid and watching everyone else get Christmas presents except for you. Being able to get packages for indigent inmates is one of my main goals. If you read Ms. Kat's story, you can see what a difference it can make it someone's life to know that someone cared about them.
There are two companies that offer inmate packages, Access Securepak and Union Supply Direct (click on links). The maximum order for each is 100.00. You can order from both catalogs with a maximum order of 100.00 each.
There are two ways that you can do this if you want to help an inmate. One is to find out through an inmate liaison which inmates are indigent and have never gotten a package or no longer has help from the outside. In my case, my daughter acts as go-between. That person then relays to a family member what that person's needs and wants are and the family member can relay it to you. You will be given their DC number and you can go on each site and order yourself. The other way to do that is to donate to the Go Fund for Inmate Packages which I will have during the spring and fall and I will order the packages.
We do 100.00 per inmate or more if funds are available but they are so happy to receive anything that 100.00 is plenty. You could also do just 50.00 because things like radio's and earbuds are greatly appreciated. We were doing them as surprises until Ms. Kat (the story is below).
On, the APPRECIATION page, there are cards and drawings from thankful inmates.
INMATES LIVES MATTER
Copyright © Kathleen Carlin. All rights reserved.