Oh great wisdom, help

I just got a request for mid November. “How far away are you from (nearest airport), Manhattan, and (prison i’ve never heard of)”

I’ve marched to close the closest prison (because of its treatment of inmates, not Nimbyism), and i’ve hung out with past and future political prisoners.

But that’s all she’s written, and it’s a little… off-putting?

I answered her questions as well as i could and i don’t want to discriminate based on one’s family being in jail.

But i kind of want a little more reassurance from her before i pre-approve. Yes?

“Can you tell me more about yourself and your visit?”


I just checked and she has one review that she and her family were great. I hope that host was being honest…

Thank you! I’ve got my toddler climbing and my brain is with him, not with careful wording.

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Yikes. But at least she was upfront about it. I immediately assumed she’s visiting a prisoner but could be teaching,lecturing, medical or something. Personally.I’d relax until proved otherwise but asking for more details about the reason for her trip would reveal more…

It sounds likely that she’s visiting someone in the prison and if that’s so then she will be very grateful for a nice, comfortable place to come back to after what for most people is definitely not a pleasant experience.

Alia, you sound much too nice a person to discriminate against a guest because they have a family member in prison … it happens to even the best families, you know!

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We’re in the middle of a very interesting chat, but my phone is at 14% battery so no idea where this will go.

I’ve clarified that she does mean Rikers Island, and now she’s asking if we offer transportation to guests.

(She’s inquiring about our budget space, that’s cheaper than the youth hostel. I’ve told her all we offer is a very small, very cheap space to sleep, but i did tell her what bus to take.)

My mom is a minister she does workshops in prisons. Fascinating stuff.

I would approve, 1/2 the people in prison should not be there anyways IMO



While I agree with not disciminating against those visiting a prison (for whatever reasons) a line has to be drawn somewhere. We are hosts, not a social service agency. If you do get a chance to find out what’s going on with her maybe you can find out if there is any kind of community resource to help someone in her situation.


I’d say go ahead.
Also, I’d trust 90% of the inmates from Rikers over more than half of the US congress and nearly a 100% of the current White House.

Maybe she’s going there for work or studies or maybe visiting? Who knows but I don’t think that should disqualify her.


Update: So i did pre-approve her, and suggested many helpful ways she could do what she needed to do but we don’t have a car so can’t offer anything but a tiny cheap space to sleep. And her pre-approval ran out, so i’m assuming she found somewhere else (possibly closer and/or cheaper, as we are convenient to Manhattan but not Rikers).

Honestly, once i knew it was Rikers i felt better. Her initial query was so brief (and inaccurate) that was most of my hesitation. (And also the thing where, If she did turn out to be violent or whatever, everyone/a jury would say “but yooooou let her into your home with young chiiiiiildren. Yoooou took terrible risks and are a terrible mom” so i really did need some assurances.

Accurate risk assessment is hard. :slight_smile:


Could be one of those women who correspond with men in “the pokey” and then fall in love with them.

Does Rikers house long term inmates serving their sentence, or just people awaiting trial?

Both populationsare are there, which is hard on everyone.

I speculated all over the place about who she was visiting and why, but ultimately it’s not my business so i didn’t press for more info.


Tough call! Thanks for keeping us in the loop.

I was a volunteer for 2 years in a prison, and was grateful for my automatic transmission (amongst other things)! Fascinating stuff.


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My brother did a nursing practicum in a prison. It sounded really interesting.