Wednesday, May 13, 2015

It occurs to me that most people who read this haven’t ever gotten a letter from an actual inmate in prison. In an effort to cure that problem I am hereby dedicating the next three months to sending a letter to anyone who cares to get a genuine prison pen pal letter. It’s a creative way to keep this blog going and stay busy in jail.

I will be away from the internet for three months starting tomorrow, so you will have to mail an actual paper and ink letter and snail mail it to:

John Thomas Downs

C/O Johnson County Correctional Facility

1800 Ridgemar Drive

Cleburne, TX 76031

And I promise to send a newsy prison letter your way to the return address. And if you haven’t written a paper letter and mailed it in the last decade, don’t worry. You can just say Hi. It doesn’t have to be anything special. Postcards work as well.

Just something fun to do to while away the time I reckon. And I’ll report back how many letters I get. Tell your friends. I’ll send a letter to anyone who responds. It would be pretty funny if the prison guards have to dump a Santa sized bag of mail in my cell. Well okay, maybe that's a bit optimistic unless this concept goes viral somehow. It should be interesting. They are required to supply paper, pens, envelopes and stamps to inmates so I can send unlimited mail. And I have nothing but time. Jim and Ann PM'd me on ADVrider that they are sending some of her excellent fudge and cookies to bribe the guards with. So there is my first penpal. Plus, if you have any good books on adventure travel or life in general that you think are good that you mail down here, I promise to mail them back when I get out in August.

Your future pen pal,

Cool Hand John

"What we have here is a failure to communicate"--Paul Newman's last line in "Cool Hand Luke"


  1. Cool Hand Juan. I laughed out loud when I read that, or at least snorted and shook my head. As long as you don't hear "What we have here...."

  2. Hi all--
    In preparing to send books to John, I found the following list of restrictions...

    (I guess I'll try not the piss off the good folks at the Johnson County Jail...)

    Hermana Susana

    What can I send an inmate?

    The only things an inmate may receive from a personal party are letters. Books may be received if sent directly from the publisher or an online service such as

    These books must be soft/paper back; absolutely no hard back books will be accepted. Inmates are not allowed anything generated from the internet. Inmates can receive newspapers sent directly from their publisher.

    The following items will be denied if received at the Johnson County Jail.

    Any materials containing writings, drawings, or pictures that depict, promote or advertise explicit sexual material, violence, drugs ,or alcohol. Any illustrations of gang signs, tattoos, writing (tagging), unlawful acts, inappropriate language or writings is prohibited.

    -No stamps, stamped envelopes, tablets or writing pads with

    staples or metal bindings.

    -No plastic cards of any kind or cloth items.

    -No lipstick, colognes, saliva, or body secretions on letters or envelopes.

    -No puffy or foam stickers, loose stickers or address labels.

    -No ribbons or string, watercolors or paints of any kind.

    -No homemade items with paper, buttons, glitter, or any
    other item glued to paper.
    -Greeting cards that cannot be inspected (example: cards
    with musical devices or items glued to the cards). If any of
    these are received, the forgoing items will be removed
    before being sent to the inmate.
    -Any mail where jail property is misused

  3. That’s an offer we can't resist! I know lots of people who would love to hear from you, John. And I want to thank you in advance for letting everyone here personally receive letters from you. I know being in jail must get dull, so I'm glad you found a way to reciprocate that boredom with writing. Anyway, hope to hear from you soon. Take care! :)

    Eliseo Weinstein @ JR’S Bail Bond

  4. Hey man, I've been thinking about you and wondering how your time has gone. I think you should be out within the lat few days? I'm looking forward to a jailhouse report, and also following your continuing motorcycle adventures. Let us know how you're doing, and tell us about the jail time.

  5. Hi John,
    hope you have done your time and are a free man by now.
    The 3 months have past so hope al is ok and readjusting to normal life again.
    Lots of followers are waiting to hear from you.