Life-Saving Holiday Card Campaign for Prisoner Rape Survivors

Media Contact: Jesse Lerner-Kinglake
(office) 213-384-1400, ext. 113
(cell) 424-230-4540

Los Angeles, November 27, 2012 — Today, Just Detention International (JDI) is launching a nationwide holiday campaign that allows its supporters to do nothing less than help save a life – without spending a dime. Through its unique campaign, Words of Hope, JDI is asking people to take one free, simple action: send a holiday greeting to a survivor of prisoner rape.

Words of Hope aims to deliver 10,000 holiday cards to survivors of sexual abuse behind bars throughout the United States, reaching inmates who are living in fear and isolation after enduring horrific trauma while in the government’s custody. Anyone wishing to participate in the campaign can do so by visiting JDI’s website ( and submitting their greeting online. JDI staff and volunteers will send these messages -- each one a beacon of hope –to prisoners, who so often feel forgotten and alone during the holidays.

One survivor whose life was transformed after receiving a card during last year’s campaign is Alvin. He was just 18 years old when he was raped for the first time, while in a county jail. In 2010 he was attacked again, this time by a cellmate at a state prison. “As I read the cards telling me how I was not forgotten, my eyes got blurry, full of tears,” Alvin wrote. “I always thought nobody goes through what I go through. The holiday cards saved my life.”

Dwight, an inmate at a Texas facility who has suffered repeated sexual abuse at the hands of other inmates, echoed these sentiments. He wrote, “I can honestly say that, because of you, I haven’t killed myself or given up. You have been there for me in my darkest moments.”

In a testament to the campaign’s lasting impact, survivors who received cards in previous years are participating themselves this year. Joe, a former inmate who was raped in a California facility and who received multiple messages two years ago, plans to write many cards, and is encouraging others to do so as well. “As a survivor myself, I know how lonely and isolating it is to be behind bars, especially during the holidays,” said Joe. “But a card, even one from a stranger, can restore your faith in humanity – as it did for me. That’s why this year I’m going to write as many as I possibly can.”

The campaign will get a boost from #GivingTuesday, a national initiative of which JDI is a partner that encourages individuals to give to charitable causes over the holidays.

“One of the many amazing things about Words of Hope is how it offers people on the outside an easy and truly meaningful way to support incarcerated rape survivors,” said Lovisa Stannow, JDI’s Executive Director. As Joe put it, “This is a campaign that costs nothing, but means everything.”

To set up an interview with Joe, or another survivor of sexual abuse in detention, contact Jesse Lerner-Kinglake at 424-230-4540, or at

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