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You've Got Mail: Surprise Letters During Lockdown

Steve Drown and Darren Settlemyer both received surprised letters from estranged family during the pandemic.
Greg Eskridge KALW / Uncuffed
Steve Drown and Darren Settlemeyer received surprise letters from estranged family during the pandemic.

Letter writing is an art, and the Uncuffed producers at San Quentin State Prison know that very well. At the height of the pandemic, after weeks of constant lockdowns, one of the only thing to do was write letters to friends and family. And during the darkest moments of the pandemic in prison, getting a letter delivered to your cell was a bright silver lining. Today on the newest episode of Uncuffed, we'll hear about how some unexpected letters changed everything for two incarcerated people and their families.

Let me tell you, that thing matters. We needed that. I needed that for real. I think the only thing I got besides COVID during the pandemic was carpal tunnel, from writing so many dang letters.
Thanh Tran

This piece was brought to you from the team at Uncuffed. Our work in prisons is supported by the California Arts Council and the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The producers fact-check content to the best of their ability. Content is approved by an information officer.

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Uncuffed From The Producers Of Uncuffed
Producer for Uncuffed at San Quentin Radio
Stories from inside California prisons
Thanh Tran is a media-maker and journalist, raised in South Sacramento. Thanh left San Quentin in 2022, is a Senior Policy and Communications Fellow with the Ella Baker Center, and an Advisory Board member for Uncuffed.
Thomas "Shakur" Ross is a producer of KALW's Uncuffed, presenting stories that show the humanity of incarcerated people.
Edmond Richardson is a producer with KALW's Uncuffed.