prisoner on fence
Unsplash | Milad Fakurian

Woman Married Prison Pen Pal Before They Ever Met In Person

There are over 2.1 million people in the American prison system currently. Many of these people are lonely, do not have many people who come visit them, and are hoping to have some form of life after they leave prison.

Many organizations and foundations are out there helping inmates to reacclimate into society by giving them hope and mentors outside of prison walls.

One organization helps inmates by giving them someone on the outside to write to.

pen pal letters
Unsplash | Aaron Burden

WriteAPrisoner is an organization that connects people inside prison with those on the outside in hopes to establish connections. The idea is that it will aid them when it comes to rehabilitation and reintegration into the real world.

The organization can help change people's lives.

writing a letter
Unsplash | Kelly Sikkema

The success rate has been very high, as individuals who connect with prison inmates help them connect with the world outside of their prison walls. When they are released, they have people and a support system when they are out.

Sometimes, it can establish love connections.

One social media user, Naomi Oquendo, 27, shared how she used WriteAPrisoner to connect with her now-husband, Victor Oquendo, 31. The two had connected over letters to each other, before she fell in love with him.

Naomi shared she began to write to prisoners due to a counselor program that was cut short.

Woman married her prison pen pal
This Morning | This Morning

Before the Covid-19 lockdowns, Naomi shared she was studying to become a counselor but her program was cut short due to the lockdowns. Naomi, who is from. the U.K. was told she needed to work on her patience as a counselor, and maybe a pen pal would help.

She researched international programs for pen pals and found WriteAPrisoner.

She decided to begin using the program and ended up falling for her pen pal. The two wrote to each other back and forth for several months before they tied the knot over zoom—before the two even met in person.

Naomi shared that her now-husband went to jail for a double homicide.

At 18 years old, she shared he was in the position of "kill or be killed" when he was up against 5 grown men who shot at him, wounding his leg. He shot back, which resulted in a double homicide and landed him in prison.

Despite being in prison, Naomi shares that her husband really goes out of his way for her.

Even though he's in prison, her husband sends flowers, gifts, video chats with her, and makes sure that he remembers all the special occasions.

After two years, Naomi finally flew to the United States to meet her husband for the first time.

Shared through vlogs on TikTok, Naomi shared the preparation and the time spent to finally meet her husband for the very first time when she visited the prison that he is in.

Naomi shared that she was extremely nervous at first.

"My mouth was shaking, which I didn't think was a thing you could even do. It's a very uncomfortable scenario to be in to meet someone for a first time, especially your husband. But as soon as I saw him, I was calm. I was relaxed. My soul recognized his soul," she said.

While their first visit photos were "awkward" she said that their second visit was better.

The first time was a lot of pressure, Naomi shared, to meet someone for the first time—especially someone you married. But, the second time they met in person was way better for them both.

Naomi is also sending around a petition to get her husband clemency.

Currently, Naomi has a few petitions going around the internet, trying to get Victor out of prison earlier than he needs to serve time. So far, the Change.org petition has over 27,000 signatures.