One of the things that really interests me is how crochet can be used to help people. Crochet is a great stress-reliever. Many people use crochet to relax in an almost meditative manner. Crochet is also great for the self-esteem since it involves working to create a finished product that you can be proud of. Plus crochet gives you a chance to help others through donations of crocheted items and sometimes helping others is the best way to help yourself. There are many different types of institutions where crochet benefits people in these ways – such as nursing homes … and prisons.
Take a look at five different prisons that offer crochet programs:
- Edgefield Federal Prison, South Carolina. I learned about the crochet program at this prison from an article on OpEdNews earlier this year. The article was about Gary White, a county commissioner in Alabama who got himself into trouble and ended up with a ten year sentence at this federal prison. The article mentions that Gary got a crochet permit that allows him to crochet at this prison.
- Long Creek Youth Development Center, Oregon. This juvenile facility has a crochet program that was started about a decade ago at the request of one of the boys incarcerated there. According to a Portland Press Herald news article, he had been taught to crochet by his grandmother and asked a volunteer at the prison to crochet with him. Kids in this prison can’t have scissors, hooks or yarn unless they are supervised so the volunteer agreed. This led to the development of a Crochet Group, which has up to 20 juvie participants at a time who are making crochet items for their friends, family members and various community groups in need.
- Oregon State Correctional Institution, Oregon. The juvenile prison isn’t the only one in Oregon that offers a crochet program. This medium-security prison offers Crocheting for the Community, a program through which incarcerated men can crochet items to give back to the community. They make crochet squares that are turned into afghans and donated to programs like Warm-Up America and The Shriners. They also make baby hats, premie blankets, chemo caps and crochet snowflakes to be handed out in the prison visiting room at the holidays. I think it’s interesting that this is available at a medium security prison since I had previously assumed it would only be an option at minimum security facilities.
- Colorado Corrections Industries prisons, Colorado. There is a crochet program available through the Colorado Corrections Industries, an organization that works with various prisons throughout the state. In 2004 this group approached crocheter/ knitter Judy Ditmore to teach offenders the craft of crochet using her hand-spun and hand-dyed yarn. Ditmore says the yarn is a delight for the inmates to use as they learn to crochet shawls, garments and more. The prisoners have the potential to get certified in crochet and to learn pattern writing, giving them a marketable skill that they can use upon release to become productive members of society. (source)
- Northwest State Correctional Facility, Vermont. Boston.com ran an article at the end of last year about the Crochet Club at this women’s prison. The program was started about three years ago and teaches crochet to the inmates who then make hats, scarves and mittens to donate to Vermont shelters and childcare facilities over the holiday season. They also work in conjunction with another Vermont prison program where crocheting inmates make items to be donated to homeless shelters and domestic violence shelters. This is a way for the women to help others that may be in similar situations to what they themselves have experienced in the past.
Do you believe that crochet can be a benefit to people in prison?