Respond to specific questions. Include the checklist for the inmates to complete. The checklist includes areas of interest that can help in future responses. It also includes a request for the inmate to provide the facility's chaplain's contact information. The inmates should mail that back to Distelfink's mailbox.
We have a database to keep track of these responses.
Keep it professional.
If an inmate tries to get you to buy something for him, tell him it is against Distelfink's policies to engage in any financial or item exchange. You can also simply ignore it the first time if that strategy makes sense in the particular instance.
If the subject of The Troth comes up, we don't urge inmates to join The Troth because In-Reach is not a recruiting tool., but if an inmate wants to join The Troth, we can send the paper form. Any additional issues related to The Troth should be handled by Rob or passed to In-Reach Troth participants.
If an inmate is saying something rude or inappropriate, ignore it, if possible, the first time. If it continues, let Rob know and we can figure out a response or decide to cut communication.
Don't use your home address to receive inmate mail. Use the Distelfink In-Reach mailbox:
In-Reach Heathen Prison Service
PO Box 2131
Bristol, PA 19610
Feel free to use a false name to keep your privacy. Just please let me know what name you are using so that I know where to direct responses.
You can answer inmate questions as honestly as your comfort level allows. However, it's best to avoid the quagmires of some topics, such as Folkish vs. Universalist and other hot-button issues.
Some inmates regularly complain about the chaplains and the administrators. Some may also often bash Christians. Avoid getting involved in those types of discussions like the plague. In this case, our mail is the guest in the facility's mailbox, and we want to keep an honorable reputation through honorable actions.
Don't give legal advice... Pass it on to Rob for consultation.
And a seemingly minor point that can have major consequences: When discussing a particular practice or tradition, be sure to mention somewhere that this is how you or your group or other phrases, such as "many Heathens do it this way." Administrators and chaplains may not be familiar with the diversity of Heathen denominations and may assume that one person's tradition represents all, and inmates can take what is in one of our letters and use it to try to represent all of Heathenry to their peers or chaplains/administrators.