Have you ever thought of how to help your loved one while they are in prison? I’m not just talking about LGBT either. I mean anyone. 
First, let me tell you something about prison. In prison, you have tough choices to make. Choices that involve stigmas and isolation. For instance, when you first come to prison you have the OPTION to join a prison gang. I don’t care what prison you go to, its an option. There are alternatives to prison gangs no matter the custody level. If some race is telling you to click up and put in work to keep safe, you can request to be transferred to special needs or protective custody yards. This means that your now in a place filled with people that don’t want to hurt other people or be hurt. Yeah, terrible isn’t it? Sounds awful, a place where I can do my own time, be left alone and do things concentrate on what led me here…yeah…terrible idea.
When your loved one calls you or you see them and they are getting covered in pitch forks or pirate ships or 14 88 or lightning bolts or iron crosses and saying its just a prison thing…no, its not. Its a choice they have made and as people of the community you should know that this isn’t a band of brothers fighting for survival, these are men who are terrifying. They extort, they bully, they do drugs, they rape, they manipulate and intimidate. This isn’t being done for protection, its being done for control. Its being done so they feel superior to someone else. Sound like the young man you raised? If it doesn’t and you or want them to be healthy when they get out of this place you can change this for them. 
You have to take an active role in their lives. First tell them you don’t want them to be apart of the prison gang life. Let them know that you know there are alternatives that keep them safe besides their “homies”. Tell them that racism isn’t OK and that you know what prison gangs do. Remind them that none of those things are going to help them stay out of prison. In fact, desensitization to violence and bullying others is only going to increase their likelihood of returning and creating another victim.
If they won’t listen to you and respect you, then cut them off financially. Tell them that you won’t support their endeavors. Make them write only. Let them know that you love them, but your only going to support positive behaviors. When they denounce their prison gangs and stop politicking in the prison system, then you’ll be a support to them. I say financially because when you belong to a prison gang, your loyalty is to them and them only. Your resources (you) is the gangs resource. That ten bucks a week you send for hygiene and snacks is more then likely going towards gambling and block rent and dues and drugs. Even if they don’t do them, their partners do.
This can be a place of healing. We control whether or not we come back. If we as inmates are being held to a higher standard by our loved ones we have a better chance of not coming back. Coming back means we are going to have to create another victim. Being in a prison gang or hating sex offenders or extorting those that are weaker puts them and others at risk. It feeds a mentality that will never be satisfied. One that is unhealthy and won’t bring your loved one back the same. But you need to be active. You have to tell them you DONT accept their lifestyle and you won’t support it.

Help us get out of here safe and reformed. We are going to come out changed men, either for the worse or for the better. Demand that we come out better. If that means they have to practice tolerance of different crimes and races…oh well, so does everyone else in the world.

With Love
Jeff Utnage