‘He murdered someone but he’s cute’: Latest TikTok trend sees users writing to PRISONERS who send them letters, art and mix tapes – with one claiming pen pal sites are ‘just like Take Me Out’
- Viral trend on TikTok sees users write to prisoners in US using an online service
- Users from around the world have been sharing stories of inmates on TikTok
- Includes teen users who admit they are looking for love with their pen pals
- Video users must be over 18 and have been sent art work and letters by prisoners
TikTok may be known for its dance crazes, comedy videos and 60 second lip-syncs, but a new trend is sweeping the social media app.
Since January, the hashtag #writeaprisoner has spread on the platform, encouraging users to visit a website which can connect them with a convicted criminal, who they can then become pen pals with.
The hashtag has racked up over 84.8 million views and is filled with countless users who have reached out to prisoners and received letters, emails, phone calls and video calls from an inmate of their choice.
While the website WriteAPrisoner.com is mainly compiled of US prisoners, it has a smaller international inmate locator, allowing the service to attract users from all around the world.
A new trend sweeping TikTok has seen young users become pen pals with convicted criminals. Pictured left, Gavon Ramsay, now 19, who is facing life in prison. Pictured right, letters to Jessica, from New York, from inmates
the other half is at my aunt¿s house lol (ty @dontwatchentai) ##writeaprisoner ##TimeforTENET ##VinylCheck ##fyp
Users have shared examples of the letters, poems, ‘mix tape’ song lists and even art work they have received from inmates – with some revealing they’ve planned to meet up both while in prison, and once they’ve been released.
Emily Shires, from Leeds, started writing to her prison pen pal Julian during lockdown, and compared the website to TV show ‘Take Me Out’.
Explaining why she joined the site, Emily said in one of her videos: ‘Lockdown’s had me really bored so I found this website called WriteAPrisoner.com and you can literally just browse through a load of inmates in prison all over the USA.
‘You can see all their pictures, what they were incarcerated for and all that stuff – so it’s a bit like Take Me Out. ‘
The website WriteAPrisoner.com is mainly compiled of US prisoners and connects inmates with users from all around the world
But for Emily, what started as a way to pass the time quickly blossomed into a fully fledged friendship, which she described as both ‘platonic and romantic’.
She described her pen pal, who has been convicted of Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine, ‘lovely, really intelligent and with great chat’.
However, she admitted the pair do not discuss his crime and said: ‘I reached out to get to know him, not about what he did, and I actually don’t think it’s any of my business’.
The pen pals speak every other day and Emily has insisted her parents are in full support of their friendship.
1st one got deleted!!! Blow this up again plz omg ##viral ##fyp ##foryoupage ##foryou ##fypage ##houseoftiktok ##writeaprisoner
Emily Shires,(left) from Leeds, started writing to her prison pen pal Julian (right) during lockdown and their letters quickly blossomed into a fully fledged friendship
While she’s not allowed to send her inmate gifts, Emily can send photos of herself which are printed out through an app and delivered to him by prison guards.
Emily has planned a trip to the US at the end of October, and urged other users who may be thinking of writing to an inmate to be ‘respectful and nice’, insisting ‘these are real people with real feelings’.
Another user looking for love on the website was Amaya Jones, 17, from the US, who wrote to Gavon Ramsay, now 19, who three years ago was convicted for the aggravated murder of an elderly victim, aggravated robbery, kidnapping, and abuse of a corpse.
Gavon was sentenced to life in prison. He is currently appealing his sentence.
Amaya can be heard in one of her videos saying: ‘So I heard if you’re like me and you really want a boyfriend, all you have to do is go to WriteAnPrisoner.com and you can find an inmate and become pen pals. So after searching for a while with no avail…’
The video then has text written on it saying: ‘I found Gavon. He murdered someone, but he’s cute.’
##greenscreen prt 1. I hope he writes back¿¿ ##prison ##foryourpage ##single ##WhatWouldHarleyDo ##mepracticing
Another user looking for love on the website was Amaya Jones (pictured right), 17, from the US, who wrote to Gavon Ramsay
How does WriteAPrisoner.com work?
What is WriteAPrisoner.com?
The website was originally established as an organization to help prisoners receive letters from free world pen-pals by providing the inmate a place to invite pen-pal correspondence.
Since then, we the organisation has expanded services to include many features aimed directly toward reducing repeated offences and raising awareness.
How does WriteAPrisoner.com work?
The prisoners pay the website to post their pen-pal profiles. The public, can write to inmates free of charge. Additional services such as resume profiles and housing profiles are free to post.
How can you find out more about the prisoner you’re writing to?
The website has compiled all date on locating inmates o their as well as a complete list of contact information for all available State, Federal, and County facilities. You can also contact prison officials by writing to the same address as the prisoner’s. Just put ‘Prison Administration’ in place of the prisoner’s name. Include a letter that explains what you are inquiring about.
Can you locate a specific prisoner?
The website is unable to help you locate inmates directly, but have put together a comprehensive Inmate Locator section of registered inmates.
Can you find out more about the prisoner you’re talking to?
The website’s Inmate Locator section has compiled all data on locating inmates, as well as a complete list of contact information for all available State, Federal, and County facilities.
You can also contact prison officials by writing to the same address as the prisoner’s. Just put ‘Prison Administration’ in place of the prisoner’s name. Include a letter that explains what you are inquiring about.
In an updated video, after being warned of his crime in the comments section, the teen went on: ‘I know what I’m doing, I did this before,’ she said. ‘My ex was in jail, so I know what I’m doing.’
However, things didn’t work out for Gavon and Amaya, and he stopped writing when he realised their messages were being shared on social media.
In an interview with Digital Trends from Grafton Correctional Institution in Ohio, Gavon himself confirmed the pair were never romantically involved.
‘She was trying to post everything’, he said. ‘I find, like, she posted like our messages on there, and I just really wasn’t thrilled about that. Like it’s not a message for the whole world to see it between me and you.’
i didn’t get to them all but i’ll post more soon ##writeaprisoner ##fyp
Jessica, who attends Cornell University in New York, has multiple pen pals, who she began writing to before the TikTok trend went viral. Pictured, artwork of Jessica done by an inmate
However, not everyone writing to prisoners is looking for love, and Jessica, who attends Cornell University in New York, has multiple pen pals, who she began writing to before the TikTok trend went viral.
She plans to enroll in a prison education course and helps inmates who plan to enter further education, often assisting in writing their college applications and parole letters.
Although she isn’t looking for a romantic connection, Jessica says some of her ‘best friends’ have been made through writing to prisoners, and shared some advice on the best ways to form a bond with an inmate.
‘I always go for someone in a different age range,’ said Jessica, ‘Someone in a different state and people who are furthering their education while they are in prison.
Although she isn’t looking for a romantic connection, Jessica says some of her ‘best friends’ have been made through writing to prisoners. She is pictured holding a picture one of her pen pals drew for her
She plans to enroll in a prison education course and helps inmates who plan to enter further education. Pictured, a ‘mix tape’ of songs written out for Jessica by one of her pen pals
‘Keep it simple, talk about your interests, if you’re in school talk about that, ask get to know you questions’.
She went on to advise not asking about their crime ‘right away’, never giving money to your pen pal, while always being transparent about your reasons for writing a letter.
‘I wouldn’t ask them about their crime right away’, she said, ‘Normally they are pretty open about it but you don’t want them to think that’s why you’re writing to them right away.
‘Normally these guys are looking for something romantic, a woman to support them financially and emotionally, so tell them what you’re looking for.’
In a separate video she advised: ‘Never send them money. You have to be super safe about it.’
She also warned of prisoners selling your information on to other inmates, saying: ‘Also if you’re getting letter back from someone different, the initial person you wrote to likely sold your information, so be aware of that.’
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