Christian Science Monitor reports that the online prisoner dating industry has grown from humble beginnings 1996 into a robust market today. Leading sites boast “between 7,000 and 10,000 ads” featuring prisoners seeking to connect. ABC News reports that there are over a dozen major prison dating sites.
Experts on the phenomenon believe that the emotional intensity of dating someone behind bars is addictive. Others observe that law-abiding citizens seek anti-social lovers because they are unable to be truly intimate in typical commitment. They need the distance. Then there is always the eternal appeal of the bad boy (or girl).
But does the sexy swag of a prisoner outweigh the risks of loving a violent offender? Writer Julie Bindel of the British newspaper The Guardian says no. Of the alarming rise in online prisoner dating in the U.S. she says:
I once interviewed a woman who was waiting for a man to be released from a life sentence she had met via the prison pen pal service. He had killed two women in domestic violence situations. My interviewee was desperate to marry him, and, although she knew of his crimes, was convinced she could change him.