Americans like to love, but also like to incarcerate.
Indeed, despite only enjoying 5 percent of the world's human beings, the United States seems to be home to almost a quarter of all the world's prisoners.
Who could not have imagined, then, that some hardy, enterprising soul would see in this population a market gap?
Please greet, therefore, Meet-An-Inmate.com. Actually, this site claims to have been "serving inmates since 1998," yet the service had somehow passed me by until today's Daily Mail brought its full glory to my attention.
Meet-An-Inmate allows you to peruse not merely profiles, but pictures of those who may or may not have been locked up for a long time. It categorizes lady inmates, males, and even has a special section for newbies.
Clearly the concept of dating an inmate has its handcuffs. You can't actually go out with them to dinner and "Nightmare on Elm Street Part VII." However, the site says that all they're looking for are penpals.
It explains: "He/She will get excited when their name is called to receive a letter from you. Just think how lonely it must feel at mail call to never hear your name being called, especially after being locked up for several years and family and friends have deserted you."
It even offers the phrase: "Don't be shy, give it a try!"
I know that some people find criminals enticing. The harder the time, the better. However, others might wonder what they might be getting themselves into.
Anyone who has attempted to date online knows that even those not in cells tend to sell themselves with copious amounts of dubious information -- and vast amounts of highly deceptive PhotoShop.
Some might, therefore, reach the conclusion that those who might have transgressed society's strictures might also be tempted to transgress the lesser mores of dating morality.
Oddly enough, the creators of Meet-An-Inmate.com seem aware of this possibility. For a disclaimer at the bottom of the home page begins: "We (meet-an-inmate.com) accept no responsibility for the accuracy of any content found within these pages."
The Huffington Post does helpfully offer, though, that one can check at least some of the information. For there is a Free Inmate Locator, which purports to offer official details of the incarcerated from 42 states.
You might be wondering, though, how the inmates present themselves.
Well, here is what 30-year-old alleged Texas inmate Liliana Hernandez offers: "Hello, I am happy to tell you that this will be the last profile you will need to read. Why? Because I am your girl. I have been incarcerated since 2003. I am currently working on my case. I hope this won't affect your interest in me. I want to get to know you."
Hernandez says she's both "blunt" and "erotic." (No, the word "blunt" was not followed by "instrument.")
Samuel Sikes also say he is a Texas inmate. He's 34 and he entices like this: "I'm a determined, dedicated, honorable, loyal, respected, and respectful person. I am outgoing, compassionate, and ambitious too!"
In essence, then, it seems that the approach is no different from that on, say, Match.com.
Some might say, indeed, that Meet-An-Inmate is more honest. At least there, you know about some of the bad things the hopeful lovers have done in their lives.