Since 1997, any District resident who is convicted of a felony serves his or her sentence in a federal prison. In mid 2018, there were approximately 4700 District residents incarcerated in 122 different federal prisons around the country. DC residents are isolated from their family and community. Criminal Justice research indicates that maintaining relationships with family and friends is a key variable for predicting recidivism.
Because most DC residents in prison are far from home, IAHR launched a pen pal outreach program in November 2017. Over 100 people in the Washington area have signed up to be a pen pal with a DC resident in the Bureau of Prisons. Click here to view a map of the different prisons we are in touch with through our pen pal program.
In order to become a pen pal, we ask volunteers to attend an orientation. Orientations are held periodically: sometimes as a webinar and sometimes in person. At the orientation, you will receive guidelines that we ask our pen pals to follow as well as a name of an incarcerated person and some information about that person. If you would like to be a pen pal or would like some more information about the program, please click here.
While every DC resident who is convicted of a felony serves his or her sentence in a federal prison, DC residents awaiting trial or who have been convicted of a misdemeanor are held in the DC Jail, which is located in Southeast. IAHR is now looking into the use of solitary confinement in the DC jail and will be reporting on it later this fall.