Yes, I believe so. It's thoughtful and generous of you to think of it. Don't include any money or stamps, though. California takes out 60 percent of any funds sent to prisoners for "administrative costs." Once I went to Harley-Davidson & got cards with Santa on a cool bike. The guys loved them. It's fun to lift the spirits of someone you've never met.
Can he receive pictures? I took some Christmas pictures for an inmate friend, and am sending a few of those also to some other inmate friends. Just a few shots of ornaments and a tree, that kind of thing, but they're pretty. Or would that bother him.
Took the liberty anyway. It's in the mail. I hope he can receive them.
Bless you for your compassion and engaged practice. I'm sure he will enjoy your photos. He doesn't get to see any trees, just concrete and once a day, the sky, straight up. I often send postcards with far away scenery, after a prisoner told me he had to get glasses to see in the distance because his eyes had adjusted to the size of the cell. I hope the landscapes are a suitable substitute.
It's funny how that is. When I was in jail, the guys watched an excessive amount of cop, jail, legal, and prison programs (define irony!). One MSNBC there airs a very good weekly program called Lock Up. One episode had this guy who I believe was on death row. From his cell he could outside see a good bit of green and grass. Everyday he covered up his window so he couldn't see it. The sight of the grass mixed with never again being able to touch it was too much.
Then there's the other side of the coin, those who are starved for the sight of life in nature, on the outside. I do have some nature shots I took for a friend in prison here in Va. Do you know of what kind of mail and/or picture restrictions Ernie has. I write one friend in AZ who has none of either, yet Va Doc restricts to five pictures and 1 oz letters.
I'm sure the landscapes are more than suitable. :)
also check out our PDN Resources page...
and another good site on the issue of solitary is:
PDN's Books Behind Bars Project:
Downloadable Meditation Kits (from PDN and our partner Tricycle Magazine):
Prison Dharma Press:
and our Dharma Mentor Program (we have connected thousands of prisoners with mentors) (we do have 'qualifications' for mentors though.
PDN's Bookstore (on all sorts of prison issues)
Sorry I'm a bit late in responding to this, but you might want to contact the ACLU for the Pennsylvania area about equal-time for services. Depending on the state chapter's funding (which is always an issue) it seems like the sort of thing they might be interested in pursuing legally.
Thank you, Chris, I support the ACLU, too, ever since I heard a diatribe in my local library. I might try them, the one time I wrote them about a prisoner's rights, they were not intererested. The prison "rule" is that an inmate must request services in a religion other than what already is offered through the chaplaincy. Catch 22: they don't know I'm here & I don't know they're there.
I must have read your mind, because I sent her a Dharma Mentor request form today along with a few other resources and a book I hope she'll like :)