Reported by Liku Zelleke
Pigeonly is an organization that was established to help inmates connect with their loved ones. In a world where everyone is too busy to care for or even remember those behind bars, the organization makes sure that those serving time have the opportunity to have a sense of attachment with their loved ones outside.
The whole concept behind the organization is the brainchild of Fredrick Hutson, who very well knows the sense of isolation and neglect that prison brings, first hand.
The CEO and co-founder of Pigeonly was himself once a federal prisoner.
He was serving in the US Air Force when, in 2008, he was arrested for being involved in marijuana trafficking. Having no priors, he spent four years behind bars – transferring between at least eight different federal prisons.
It was while he himself was in the system that he saw many inmates that no one seemed to care about. “We have people that haven’t seen their kids in years, haven’t seen their mothers in years,” Hutson said.
But now with the help of Pigeonly, the inmates are able to receive photos and even make phone calls.
“Even though you have family members that love you and care for you it is very hard for people to live in a digital world to stay connected with someone who lives completely in the analog world,” Hutson said. “It is easier to send a text message, an email but is very difficult to write a hand letter and print photos and head to the post office to mail it.”
Ho collaborated with his long-time friend Alfonzo Brooks and established the organization in 2012. It now employs 10 people, has secured $1 million in investments and also has thousands of clients.
Going one step ahead, the organization shares and promotes news and stories about injustices in the prison system via social media.
Hutson is himself surprised by the success of the organization, “I knew what I wanted to accomplish but I had no idea where it was going to take me,” he said. ”