Online Prison Dating Not So Sexy, Inmates Find
The first day of June marks day one of Celibacy Awareness Month, which we singles have appropriated from the Bible-thumpers. Not that we're celebrating our celibacy with the same gusto, but we're just as aware of it -- especially as the weather's heavy wetness coaxes layers off of our bodies.
From LostVault.com One ad of thousands on Lost Vault.
Oh God. We need to get laid.
But what about Texans who can't simply join a kickball league, or take a date to Marfreless? What about those stuck behind bars, instead of in them?
For them, there's Lost Vault.
It's a prison pen pal site, where inmates across the U.S. take out free ads looking for correspondence, companionship, or something more. Friends and relatives can also post ads on an inmate's behalf. It's similar to a standard dating site, but stripped of all frills. The form replaces the typical "Dreams and Aspirations:" field with "Convicted Of:" and "Release Date:."
Some are looking for legal advice; some just for dirty pictures.
Some ads are demanding:
From a 34-year-old female
I was convicted of aggravated assault w/ deadly weapon/ firearm...I am looking for a God fearing Husband who will love and respect me.
From a 33-year-old man convicted of sex with a juvenile
I'm looking for a pen pal and maybe someone to love. Size does not matter.
From a 44-year-old female convicted of assaulting a police officer
All races welcome - prefer ages 38-85 - NO Inmates!
And some downright desperate:
From a 41-year-old male convicted of murder
Been in prison since 1993. Mother only one who writes. Would love to have a friend. Need some communication with someone outside. Loves the Lord and believes in Jesus. Loving, caring person who made a terrible mistake.
There's no standard Lost Vault ad, but the further away the release date, the less specific inmates seem to be about race, age and even gender.
Online dating has never worked for Hair Balls -- we always end up being matched with some dog -- so we reached out to some lovelorn prisoners and releasees to see how Lost Vault is working out.
Topangelia Bingham is the world's hottest computer hacker. She'll be out of the Fort Worth pen in December. Here's her ad:
From LostVault.com This photo is not Topangelia Bingham, as it turns out.
Description: Seeking: Just Friends; Romance with Men Serious, beautiful woman, searching for her soul mate. Someone that's not judgmental, and that is caring, and honest. I am loving and caring. I do not play games and I don't have the time for the games. If you're serious about a commitment, please take the time to write me and get to know the person I am.
I'm willing to relocate for a fresh new beginning. If you decide to write to me, please include your email address, so if you wish we can exchange emails.
I know my soul mate is out there, please don't have me waiting long.
But is that photo really her? Bingham wrote us back and fessed up.
"No its not me," she said via letter. "The reason why you don't put your picture on there, because you get some strange reply. And you don't want your photo on there.
"When I receive a letter, I always inform them that the picture is not me. I even send them a picture of me," she said. "A lot of them, say that I am more beautiful then the one in the ad."
We don't doubt it. Still, Bingham hasn't had much luck with the site. "My experience was not good. Because the guys that write me don't want a relationship at all. They want sex letters. And are looking for a lot more than just that."
Ew, gross. Who's sending these letters? Says Bingham, "The type of response I receive is mostly from older men that is pervert."
Benson, a six-foot white male who did four years in Beaumont for burglary, found Lost Vault via an advertisement he got in jail mail. He signed up last August. Here's his ad, short and sweet:
Description: Looking for a female penpal to write with. Have 7 months left and would to have a friend to share thoughts and feelings with. Look forward to hearing from you.
Benson got out in March and spoke over the phone about the site. "It was terrible," he said. "I got one letter and it was from an old white guy -- retired Air Force, said he was a model. And I was like, 'Oh man, I'm gone.' He was really old," he said. "After that I was scared."
(In case you were wondering: "Hell nah, I didn't write back to him.")
Benson gave online dating another shot on the other side. Through DateHookup.com, he met his current girlfriend, someone he "really likes," he said.
And that, we found, is the closest thing to a Lost Vault success story.