A new reality show on WEtv called “Love During Lockup,” premiering Jan. 7, explores the relationships between people who “date” jailbirds. Here, The Post meets three of the women devoted to men behind bars.
‘My fiancé bought me a $20K BMW from behind bars’
Gabrielle Nieves was taken aback when she heard that the “bunkie” (cell mate) of her cousin’s incarcerated boyfriend had seen her photograph — and wanted to call her from jail.
“It wasn’t something I really wanted to get into,” said the 27-year-old bartender from Orange, NJ. “But I eventually gave in and we started talking from there,”
Her admirer, Chris, who is serving six years for robbery and possession of drugs, insisted on paying her phone bill so they could call and text each other on a regular basis.
They’ve been together since 2019 and his generosity has extended to paying her rent, buying her a $5K diamond engagement ring, and treating her to a $20,000 used BMW that, she said, “looks as good as new.”
Nieves explained that the cash, which is sent in installments through Chris’s lawyer, comes from a $150,000 settlement her beau made with prison authorities after allegedly being beaten by guards on Riker’s Island.
“He had broken ribs, but we don’t talk about it much because we’ve got other things to discuss,” Nieves said. She dismissed the suggestion that Chris, 31, could be compared to a “sugar daddy.”
“We take part in our relationship 50/50. I know how to handle him and he knows how to handle me.”
The romance may have raised eyebrows among her friends and family, but Nieves has developed a “carefree attitude,” explaining: “Whoever’s with me is with me and whoever’s not, I’m sorry it has to be that way.”
Chris has been transferred to a series of jails during his sentence. He is currently behind bars in Allentown, Penn., and was previously held at the maximum-security Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate New York.
“Both places are at least a three-hour drive each way,” said Nieves, who visited her fiancé every Saturday before Covid restrictions limited in-person encounters.
“We used to touch each other under the table,” recalled the Jerseyite, who would discreetly pleasure Chris with her hands. “The other inmates and visitors looked around for us, checking the guards weren’t watching.”
Soon, however, the couple will be able to enjoy each other’s company as often as they want. If everything goes to plan, Chris will be released later in the year.
“I’m totally looking forward to being with him,” said Nieves, who wants to have a baby as soon as possible. “Right when he gets out,” she added. “I’m ready.”
‘I’m dating four inmates at once’
In the past, when friends asked single mom Tia Simpson why they never got to meet her boyfriend, she’d play it safe and lie. “He’s in the military overseas,” she would say, or “He works on the road.”
But now, the 36-year-old from Buffalo, NY, is proud to proclaim: “He’s a f–king prisoner.”
“People should be allowed to love whoever they choose,” said Simpson, who began dating imprisoned convicts some 20 years ago.
“Seeing an inmate is nothing to be ashamed about. I want to break that stigma. It’s time to stop shunning a good person who may have made some bad decisions in their life.”
Simpson, a mortician, gives the benefit of the doubt to a number of jailbirds. Rather than seeing one particular inmate, she ic currently sharing her affections with at least four felons incarcerated in prisons on the East Coast and in the Midwest.
There’s BB, a 38-year-old locked up in New York; Donte, 31 and also in New York; and Hottie, 33, now serving time in Illinois. Then there’s a 25-year-old Simpson won’t name because, she says, details about the identity would be a plot spoiler for “Love Under Lockup.” The other men are serving sentences of between 10 and 40 years, mostly for serious crimes relating to drugs.,
None of them knows about the others and, according to Simpson, “would be jealous, like all men,” if they did.
Simpson first met BB online three months before he was arrested in 2017 and sent to prison for life for crimes relating to drugs. “He was a third-time offender,” she recalled. “It was three strikes and you’re out.”
They had an exclusive relationship for several months — “I tried very hard to be his support system,” Simpson said — and, during prison visits, even got away with oral sex while pretending to use one of the vending machines.
“The visitors look out for each other,” Simpson said, explaining how visitors and other prisoners helped block the view of the guards.
Nowadays, things with BB are mostly platonic — “He told me I deserved to be free,” she recalled — and Simpson has gone on to cultivate her other romances. In 2019, she was encouraged to contact Hottie by her hairdresser who thought they’d have a lot in common; indeed, they hit it off immediately. As for Donte, he caught Simpson’s eye in the visiting room when she was chatting to BB, by then as more of a friend.
Simpson said: “[Donte] was gorgeous and would always wink at me while I smiled back. He had a pretty girlfriend, but, after I heard one of the guards say his name, I looked up his inmate number on the prison website and started writing to him.”
She keeps files on the perps who catch her eye online, logging information such as their crimes, sentences and prior arrests, and said it’s relatively easy to track them down via various department of corrections websites.
“[The research] is a kind of interview process because I need to know who I’m opening myself up to,” said Simpson.
She keeps track of them all with the help of a vision board showing the inmates’ photos and expected dates of release.
“I guess the biggest thing about dating an inmate is that you become every type of woman to them,” she concluded. “You get to be a combination of a [caring] mother and a fantasy sex symbol. They need you because they crave attention and desire.”
‘We’ve never met, but I’m moving states to be with him’
Divorcée Santiba Webb connected with her inmate boyfriend, Talsey, after watching a TV documentary that featured the dating website WriteaPrisoner.com.
“It was about a woman who married a murderer jailed for life,” Webb told The Post. “I decided to give [the online agency] a try.”
She turned to WriteAPrisoner.com in July 2019 after dating the “wrong guys” and immediately developed an attraction toward the tattooed felon. “He’s hot, he’s handsome,” the billing analyst, 39, said. “His smile is so beautiful and so big.”
While she has yet to meet Talsey, 40, in person, Webb plans to relocate from Portland, Maine, to her boyfriend’s home state of Georgia ahead of his expected release this year.
“I feel 100 percent like I’m taking a risk,” Webb told The Post. “My whole life has been about risks and dealing with the consequences. But I’ll know happiness when it happens.”
The mom-of-one, who has shed nearly 100 pounds over the last few years, said the dramatic weight loss helped boost her confidence and motivated her to search for love in unconventional places.
She and Talsey — who was sentenced to 10 years for possession of a firearm and drugs offenses — started off as pen pals but soon began sharing texts and emails.
“He’s everything I look for in a man,” said Webb. “He’s a family guy with a couple of daughters and loves being outside like me.
“He tells me I’m beautiful,” she added, revealing she sent him “before and after” photos of her figure. However, correspondence and pictures are vetted by authorities for overtly sexual content and “specific areas of the body” are not allowed to be shown in images.
“I’ll take selfies with my legs crossed at a certain angle and my arms covering my nipples,” she said with a laugh.
Meanwhile, though some of Webb’s friends are “supportive” of the relationship, others are less impressed, saying she’s “stupid,” “making a big mistake” or “being used.”
But nothing is going to stop her from moving to Georgia after meeting Talsey at the prison gates and taking him to a halfway house where he is mandated to stay for around two months.
“I’m really nervous about meeting him,” Webb admitted. “But I’m also very excited about the whole thing.”