Op-Ed

Canadian Inmates Connect is a services that lets criminals share public dating profiles. Photo: CC, pixbay.com and wikipedia.com.

New website lets Canadian criminals make public dating profiles, and that’s not a bad thing

“One of the first things I try to ensure the woman in my life knows is with me there is no need to feel insecure … And for that special girl reading this who may not see how important she is, allow me to remind you everyday of why it is you are simply amazing.” 

Sounds romantic, right? Too bad he’s in prison for first degree murder. But does that mean he should be denied love?

Not your typical dating website, Canadian Inmates Connect provides the golden opportunity for prisoners to find that special someone—or even just a pen pal.

For a mere fee of $35 a year, inmates—mostly men—submit photos and information about themselves to the website’s creator Melissa Fazzina, who then uses it to create a profile for them online. The dating site is available for the public to pick and choose who they want to contact. From there, it’s back to the old snail mail.

Unfortunately, many people don’t believe that these criminals deserve the chance to have a pen pal. But to see the value in this service, you really have to approach the situation from the perspective of an inmate.

Many of them don’t even get visited by family or friends, which can result in a damaging sense of isolation. In an interview with Chatelaine, Fazzina firmly stated, “(Communication) is a human right that all of these guys are entitled to.”

Next, we have to think about the long-term effect. This site will make it easier for inmates to transition from prison back to society. It could better prepare inmates to regain human connections when leaving prison and for many may lower the probability of recidivism.

After all, programs like the Salford Prison Project in the UK already offer a strictly platonic version of this kind of interaction, where volunteers provide inmates with moral support and mentoring as soon as they get out of prison.

The results speak for themselves—from 2013 to 2014 the reoffending rate for this program’s participants is less than nine per cent, compared to the country’s average of about 60 per cent.

In the end, sites like Canadian Inmates Connect may be different from this program, but they’re also providing the same kind of emotional support that could help fulfil one of the fundamental goals of most prisoners—never going back.