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I hope you know what you are doing

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I hope you understand what you are doing. I hope you understand what it means to get a letter while incarcerated.

My name is Matthew Kubien, #25929-039. I was once locked up at !.C.C. Lewisberg, PA. I.C.C. stands for Intensive Confinement Center. They are all closed down now. When I was in there there were 3 in the country. 2 for men and 1 for women. They were boot camp prisons. voluntary programs for first time non-violent offenders. It was hard. my "team." the Delta Dogs, started out as 60 people. by the time our program was done only 30 of us made it. the other 30 decided to sign out, go next door to the regular prison camp and forfeit their credit from the program.
There were many times when I considered quitting. running 5 miles everyday. hundreds of pushups everyday. being told what a piece of **** you are everyday. same thing everyday. everyday. every day. e v e r y d a y.
But there was one thing that kept me going. letters from the outside. my whole day could be ****. almost got into a fight. guard put me in the lean and rest and forgot about me so i was there for over an hour. had to do 100 pushups because my class A shirt had a loose thread. caught a drop of CO spit in my face while he screamed at me what a scumbag i am from 2 inches away. dropped my soap, not picking it up, shower over. but when it was the end of the day and time for mail call my mind would leave that place. standing at attention hearing inmates names being called. waiting to hear my name. picturing my girl. imagining our first day back together after this.

stack of mail is getting low. CO hasnt called my name yet. its friday. and monday is a holiday so today is the last day for mail till tuesday. being pulled back into this place. my body is so sore. im so tired. i hate this fukking place! tomorrow is going to suck. when i get out of here im going to kill the rat bastard who put me here.
mail call over. FFFFFUUUUUUKKKKKKK!!!!!!!!!!!!
i pull out old letters to get back out of this place but its not as good as a new one would have been. i can make do. i lay out all my pictures. my favorite is my girl in a bikini in front of her house standing in 6" of snow. i smell the old letters. they smell just like her. i try to write a letter but i can't tonight. just gotta get through this weekend. I know ill get some letters tuesday

rough weekend

tuesday night finally gets here.
DAMN! the CO who charges "money" for letters is handing out mail tonight. for us "money" was pushups. thats what all bets consisted of. but this CO would charge one pushup per cent of postage on your letter. and this guy loved to hand out mail after a holiday because we got more mail on those days.
Johnson jogs over to the CO. CO throws the letter on the floor.
Beat your face.
Beat your face.
Beat your face.
SUNSHINE HAPPY DAYS. eff this place i got letters!!!!
as i do my 30 some pushups to pay for my letter I was already gone. im my girls arms. smelling her, kissing her.
Kubien. you got another. double stamps. beat your face, scumbag
WOOOHOOOO! when he threw this one it landed right under my face. i could see it was from my girl and i could smell it. easiest 100 pushups i have ever done.
almost done. soon i get to read these beautiful words. sill down there? stay there. you got another
TRIFECTA! i am the master of the WORLD!!!!!!
i glided through my pushups. occasionally resting by sticking my butt in the air or dropping my but low. but never touch you knees to the ground. NEVER.
im on my bed now. new letters, new pictures, new smells. my brain must be lighting up like a junky about to tie off. i got 2 letters from my girl with new pictures. I LOVE new pictures. and i share em with the guys who dont have any letters. they tell me she is hot. but that Jody is hitting it right now. Yesterday I might have smacked a dude who tried to piss me off. but today I have letters. you cant phase me. these letters are my armor. my strength. my hope. my reward for enduring this.
yeah my body is locked up but these letters free my mind. keep me sane. balance me.
Yesterday I was ready to drop out. Tonight I know I can make it. all it took was some words on a piece of paper.

15 years later i still have every single letter i received while in prison.

I hope you understand what you are doing. I hope you understand what it means to get a letter while incarcerated.


  1. Fanette's Avatar
    Very touched Matthew
    Thank you so much for your statement.
    I do it seriously and with mindfulness but i'm not against a wake-up call.
    I will write another postcard this morning just to celebrate that and to give my PP a little sweetness between two long letters.
  2. 25929-039's Avatar
    Fanette, a mindfull pp is an awesome pp.
    ...i loved postcards and cards! it was never an in between to me. 5 page letter and post card can really have the same weight in there. depends on the person and day, etc but a postcard IS NOT a lesser thing than a letter. a piece of mail is a piece of love period
  3. 25929-039's Avatar

    every letter and card I got while i was down. still have em all 15 years later
  4. Fanette's Avatar
    Thank you very much Matthieu
    I'm'french and my English is a little rusty... I don't speak very well and there are certainly a lot of mistakes in my letters and in my messages but I do try to do my best to be understood.
    I take lessons of English for my PP but i'm sure that reading you and the others, here, will help me more surely.
    My PP are really understanding and caring with me and they all encourage me and some of them try to speak french just for my pleasure
    I sent my postcard this evening and... thanks to you... I put a origami fish in the envelope (i'm Pisces)
    I stole your idea... you don't mind?
  5. 25929-039's Avatar
    your english is better than mine! please do not learn from me. your pps are very lucky

    of course i do not mind. i share my ideas so anybody can have them

    i hope your fish makes it!
  6. Velvet's Avatar
    OMG thank you so much for this text Matthew! It made me realize how happy my PPs must be everytime they get a letter, a card or pictures! They DO tell me how happy it makes them feel, but geez, the way you wrote it was so perfect. Thank you
  7. gooddog's Avatar
    Very great. Thank you. I know that even as a friend you can have a big effect on someone. That's why I always tell those who end up with people who don't appreciate them or their letters to move on until they find someone who is happy to receive them.
  8. 25929-039's Avatar
    just want to say thanks. all of your comments and likes are so very appreciated.
  9. sarah.1991's Avatar
    this was really lovely! i hope to find someone that appreciates letters as much as you do! you seem like you have a lovely heart
  10. Moonlampje's Avatar
    Thnx for this beautiful blog entry. When I visited my boyfriend ealier this year in prison, the taxicab driver gave me a compliment. He said that it was so awesome to hear that there are people that care about other people in prison. He had been to prison himself and told me how important that mail call is.

    I hope you're doing fine and that life will bring you many beautiful days ahead of you!
  11. Englishfox's Avatar
    Thankyou!this really touched my heart,
    So glad i write to my pp,i wondered how
    the reaction to mail would be,you put it
    so well,tears filled my eyes at your utter
    pain and determination to achieve your
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