Love Letters from Jail in Virginia

How my third visit to jail changed everything.

Jacob Moore

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My first time in a jail was at two years old — to visit my incarcerated father. Mom was just 22, but this wasn’t her first time and it wouldn’t be her last time visiting him there. My father’s times on the outside were a rollercoaster of church-going, substance use, support groups, petty larceny, repentance and guilt. Recidivism, not rehabilitation, was the way of life. When I was six, four years after this visit, he died by suicide.

My second time in a jail was when I was 22, after being arrested on felony charges of Malicious Destruction of Property. I had the full experience: handcuffs, police car, militant officers, strip-search, jumpsuit and drunken cellmate. I’d learned my lesson and couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

Fifteen years later, and under very different circumstances, I’ve been invited to be a guest at the Abingdon Regional Jail in Virginia. It’s an unassuming brick building on a small rise just outside of the picturesque Appalachian town. Inside, our intimate group is led through a sterile maze of grey concrete corridors housing around 1,000 people incarcerated for up to four years at a time.

LOVE letters on Martha Washington Inn lawn not far from the jail.

Armed with staple-free informational packets, I’m there to speak to a group of men in a reentry pod called The…

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Jacob Moore

Wellness Strategist Helps Service Leaders Scale Impact & Avoid Burnout 🔥 Creating Community Health & Thought Leadership Programs with Mission-Driven Orgs