A few interesting things I’ve learned by volunteering in a prison


In this state, prisoners can knit or sew clothing in their cells. They can purchase yarn to do this, except for green yarn.


One inmate told me this is because the prison administration is worried that men will knit entire camouflaged outfits that will blend into the green lawns surrounding the prison and sneak away.


Prisons sometimes receive funding for educational programs and then take months or years to provide any classes for inmates.


Prisoners were banned from growing Jalapeño peppers in the prison gardens becuase the administration was worried they could “weaponize” them. On the other hand, hot sauce and pickled Jalapeños are available from the commissary


A man who’d served over 13 years told me about the warm summer during which the prison’s farm grew over 3,000 lbs. of squash for food banks.  Nevertheless, the entire horticultural program was cancelled and all the gardens allowed to go to seed when a few prisoners began distributing surplus organic produce to each other for free in contravention of the rules.

In a prison there are very few sacred spaces where the nature of a prisoner’s charge doesn’t matter, his race doesn’t matter, where he comes from and who he is doesn’t matter. At the best of times, one of these few places is the classroom, particularly in the presence of outside visitors.

A few interesting things I’ve learned by volunteering in a prison