It’s been awhile. We’ve missed you!
—Securus, Illinois’ prison phone company, in an email I received three months after Kayla’s release from prison
From time to time, Kayla asks me to send one of her incarcerated friends a card or a letter for a birthday, or a death in the family, or simply “so she can hear her name” called out when the mail comes around, to provide a brief interruption in the insular monotony of the daily routine. “Mail call” can be the pinnacle of the day in prison—or the low point, for those prisoners who don’t receive anything.
When Kayla’s locked up again in the fall of 2011, I don’t pay her any visits: I’m living across the country in California, where Ryan is finishing his master’s ...