Prison inmates crafting care
ONTARIO — Photos of Snake River Correctional Institution inmates in the prison’s quilting program show burly men proudly holding up colorful quilts in a variety of patterns.
One photo shows a little boy splayed out on a sailboat quilt made by an inmate. Patsy Wilson, SRCI staff member and quilting program coordinator, said when the participants saw the photo, they all had tears in their eyes.
“These guys love it. The opportunity to create is very important to them,” Wilson said. “They take such pride in their work.”
The program began as a simple idea through a partnership between SRCI’s Corrections Rehabilitation Services section and Wilson.
Bill Doman, manager of Corrections Rehabilitation Services, had been participating in the prison’s quarterly meal preparation at Harvest House Missions in Ontario. In that program, SRCI staff provide and serve a meal to homeless community members.
Doman asked Harvest House staff what they needed most, and the answer was blankets.
After months of work, the SRCI Quilting Program was approved. The first class began in November 2014 with five inmates out of the 55 who applied.
The class meets once a week for four hours at a time, and the class lasts for 18 months. Wilson said they are very strict about who they choose to participate.
“They have to be of the highest incentive level, meaning they have been out of trouble the longest,” Wilson said. “We are very strict, because we can’t take any chances.”
According to information provided by SRCI, the inmates receive an orientation about security measures and the importance of following the rules. They learn how to properly cut fabric, create seams and use a seam ripper. By the third class, the inmates are working on their first projects, which range from crib-sized quilts to dog beds.
“They are all making the same pattern but going about it in different ways and using different colors,” Wilson said. “So they’re learning that one way is no better than the other.”
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