I’ve written many times about the benefits of crochet in prisons. Today I thought I’d highlight the way that one specific program works.
Snyder County Prison
The program is located at Snyder County Prison in Pennsylvania. They were looking for ways that keep prisoners productive and busy without spending a lot of money. Crochet seemed to be a good answer.
How the Crochet Program Started
Prior to the launch of the crochet program there was actually a rug-hooking class at the prison, which was fairly popular. However the elderly teacher had to retire and the program needed to be replaced. At first there was an attempt to do a general crafts class but they couldn’t find a solid volunteer to come teach such a class. In August 2009 they discovered that a female inmate was willing to teach a crochet class to other inmates and the crochet program was born.
A Popular Choice
There were 20 women in the women’s housing dorm at that time. They were told that they could volunteer to participate in the crochet program if they wanted to do so. 18 of the 20 women chose to join in. When new inmates come in they are invited to join.
How It Works
Women in the crochet program are able to use yarn and crochet hooks that have been donated to the program by the community. They in turn crochet items that are given back to the community through various donations. The elderly and newborns in hospitals are common recipients of the crochet donations. For example, they donate blankets to all of the babies born at Evangelical Hospital. Sometimes the items are auctioned off to raise money for various local groups.
Men Can Crochet Too
A little more than a year after the women’s program started some men came to the warden and said they wanted to crochet as well. About half a dozen men joined the prison’s crochet group.
Why The Inmates Like the Program
- Crochet is a positive way to help pass the time, an important concern in prison.
- It feels good to know that you can do something that gives comfort to others.
- Crocheting with the other women provides calm, social contact.
- It reminds some of them of positive times spent crocheting with family members they don’t see now that they are in prison.
- The very act of crocheting offers mental health benefits.
Signs That It’s Working
One report says that prior to the launch of this program there wre about half a dozen verbal incidents monthly between the women in this prison dorm and since the launch of the program there have been no similar incidents. This suggests that the crochet work is helping the women to stay calm, refocus their energy, keep busy and create social bonds with one another.
The same report says, “The county saw an 80% (eighty percent) reduction in healthcare costs for the female population from August 2009 through July 2010, the first year of this program.” That is some great anecdotal evidence for the health benefits of crochet!