I had lost touch with an old friend and recently ran into her. She had married a man whom she had met through mutual friends while he was incarcerated, and had this story to tell. Unfortunately, her story is all too common.
A mutual friend of theirs thought that it might be nice for them to start writing each other. Tentatively she sent him a letter, not expecting to get a reply. The letter introduced herself and read that their friend had thought it would be nice for her to hook up with him as a pen pal. She told him a little about herself, asked no personal questions, and mailed the letter.
A few weeks later she got a reply. The man wrote very eloquently, asked a lot of questions, and told her why he had been sent to prison. He seemed nice enough, so she wrote back.
Through a series of letters she learned that he had been in and out of prison for most of his life. He admitted to a drug and alcohol problem, but told her he had attended classes inside and was going to stay clean when he got out, if he had a friend to count on it would make it a lot easier. They continued corresponding for another few months.
One day she received a letter with forms in it for her to fill out if she wanted to visit him. The prison was a three hour drive, but she thought that a once a month visit couldn’t hurt. They had exchanged photos by then and she thought he was quit nice looking. The paper work was approved and a few months after that she drove to the prison for their first face to face meeting.
She began going to visit regularly, and one day he asked her to marry him. She said yes, and didn’t want to wait until he was released. They were married in the prison visiting room, with one of his friends and the prison minister in attendance.
She waited three years for him, visiting every few weeks, and eventually moving to the town the prison was located in so that she could go to every visit. Even though she was living outside the prison, her entire life revolved around him and the visits. She changed her life and spent most of her extra money sending him care packages, all in the hopes that when he got out they could have a life together.
Finally the day came. She waited outside the gates and soon he was in her arms. They immediately went to Las Vegas and spent three whole days together.
When they got back home, she asked him when he would be looking for a job. He told her that he had been locked up for so long that he wanted to have a little fun first, and that his parole officer had him scheduled for a few interviews. In the meantime, he hooked up with some old friends.
Long story short, he went back to prison within a few months and they were divorced soon after.
What she found out about prison marriages is that if you weren’t together before he went in, it probably wont last when he gets out. There are exceptions to this rule, but they are few and far between, especially if like Jack, they are institutionalized. You can read more about prison wives online and find support groups if this is your case.