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Ex-Prisoner Writes to Inmates Across the Globe

Every Sunday Clive Jacobsen from Sydney, Australia boards a train with a leather duffel bag, finds a comfortable seat, and settles in for a four-hour journey. He's not on the train to look at the scenery out the window. Instead, Clive will unzip his duffel bag, get out a note- pad and a pen, and start writing letters.

The letters he writes will find their way to distant countries like Zambia, South Africa, and Thailand. Clive is writing to international prisoners. He writes to inmates because he was one once. Back in the mid-1960s, Clive spent a small amount of time in jail for a relatively minor offense, but he's never forgotten the sense of isolation and abandonment he felt while he was there. So it seemed only natural that when a letter-writing organization contacted him in 2002 about sending letters to inmates abroad, he seized the opportunity.

The organization told him he could write to more than one inmate if he liked, so he decided to write to three. As his correspondence went on and he began to develop relationships—however distant—with these men, so he upped it to four. Then 10, then 20, then 100. Now Clive Jacobsen maintains written correspondence with more than 550 prisoners abroad.

Many of them live in countries with extreme poverty and no opportunities to get out of it; many of them, in a fit of desperation, did something criminal in an effort to take care of their kids or wives. Clive understands them, and his heart goes out to them. In his words, "They can't undo the crime they've done, but no one is beyond redemption."

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