Behind this façade, sites with names like act as bridges that transform long-distance friends into lovers.
Arlen Bischke started a prisoner pen-pal site called in 1998 to help prisoners connect to the outside world.
Bischke created as a pen-pal service to capitalize on this market, adding “and of course I want to make a profit like any other business.” His site now averages 3,000 visitors and 70,000 page views a day.
While he encourages people to befriend prisoners through his site, Bischke stresses that those who engage with the incarcerated need to be cautious.
ABC News reports that there are over a dozen major prison dating sites.
Rare sites like make it clear that some of its proceeds are donated to programs that benefit the prisoner and ex-con community.
So by becoming a pen pal to an inmate you are actually doing a good service to society.