16 March 2018
By Mary Rayme
[…] “Just write the word Frank where the stamp goes,” I hear another inmate telling a friend in the library.
I have to ask what he is talking about. He tells me that it is common knowledge that a very wealthy man named Frank died and donated his millions of dollars to the U.S. Postal Service. Now all poor people have to do is write his name on an envelope in place of a stamp, and the mail will be delivered for free.
Many prisoners swear they have used this method, and that it works.
The cool and weird thing about Franking is that in the U.S., it was originally used in 1775 by members of the first Continental Congress—it allowed for representatives to mail letters just by signing their names. If you look up the word ‘frank’ in the dictionary, one of the definitions you'll find is, “The signature of the sender on a piece of franked mail serving in place of a postage stamp.” […]
Mary Rayme is a recently retired prison librarian who worked at correctional facilities in West Virginia and Maryland. She is currently writing a memoir.