One of the topics that I cover on this blog that gets a lot of interest from people is the topic of crochet programs in prison. Prisons across the nation have programs that teach inmates to crochet and then have them create items for donation, providing them with constructive use of their time as well as a means of giving back to their communities. These programs are available in prisons of different security levels and in prisons for men, women and juveniles.
I thought I would explore the crochet programs in prisons in one state to show the range of different programs that exist. I chose the state of Ohio. One of the most interesting things I learned is that these programs aren’t new; I found a report dating back to 1994 about inmates crocheting behind bars as a way to learn new skills, reduce recidivism and volunteer in the community.
Here are three of the Ohio prison crochet programs I found:
Marysville Women Crochet Plastic Bag Mats for Homeless
The reason that I chose to focus on the state of Ohio was actually because I’d been meaning to share for awhile that there is a program there where female inmates can crochet plastic bags into mats for the homeless. I think this is great for so many reasons:
- Plastic bags should be recycled since it’s bad for the earth when they aren’t. This is a great eco-friendly project.
- Prison programs often have trouble getting yarn donations but it surely isn’t as hard to get donations of plastic bags to crochet!
- Plastic bag mats for the homeless are currently a popular project. This is an affordable, smart way to help the homeless in a very tangible manner.
- Many women in prison have personal experience with homelessness so they are helping with a cause that they are familiar with.
- It offers all of the benefits of any prison crochet program in terms of a productive activity for the inmates.
Approximately one dozen women in the Marysville prison are part of the program to crochet these mats. It takes more than 600 bags to make one mat, so it’s definitely not easy work. (I’ve crocheted just a few bags before and crocheting with plarn is tough!) The mats are distributed to the homeless through a church organization that has requested as many as 200 mats per year so the women are definitely keeping busy with this program! This crochet program is part of a larger program that encourages volunteering of all kinds to help inmates re-integrate into society.
Marysville is actually one of several prisons that are working on the plarn sleeping mat project.
Lebanon’s Real Men Crochet Program
Lebanon Correctional Institution started a program in March 2008 called the Real Men Crochet Program. Inmates learn how to crochet using donated yarn and hooks. They are then given the opportunity to create items for donation to a variety of different local non-profit groups.
The prison’s website says: “Inmates have made attractive scarves and hats for the local homeless shelter. The men have also made beautiful afghans that were donated to the Veterans Administration (VA) Hospital in Dayton,Ohio. In addition, inmates have started crocheting sweaters for Guide Posts for Kids. These sweaters will be sent overseas and throughout the United States. ”
There are about twenty men participating in this program at Lebanon. The prison has inmates of various security levels but those in the program are working towards reintegrating into society after their release.
Grafton Multi-Crafting Program
The men at the Grafton Correctional Institution also crochet items for donation but they do more than just crochet. This program also allows the men to knit, sew and quilt. According to a flyer for the program that was displayed alongside some quilts (and which I saw on the Glady’s Gab blog) the men in the program work on their crafts about five hours per day. This means that not only are they creating a lot of items for good causes (the homeless, victims of tragedies like fires and hurricanes, children in need) but also that they are developing the good habits of a strong daily work ethic.
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