Crocheting Behind Bars

It can be hard to imagine male inmates sitting in prison crocheting - but that is exactly what is happening at the Oregon Department of Corrections and the Oregon State Correctional Institution.

The program was developed several years ago as a way for incarcerated inmates to be able to give back to the community by crocheting articles to donate to charity. In the beginning, the male inmates were a bit unsure of the whole process, barely able to even understand the difference between a skein of yarn and different size crochet needles, not to mention the language of crocheting!

Recidivism is reduced one stitch at a time and everyone wins.

The class started with 15 men and has grown to 20 men with a huge waiting list. The men very much enjoy the therapeutic effects of crocheting, as well as the pride they feel when their completed projects are warmly received by the organizations that they are donated to.

In the beginning of the program, the male inmates learn basic crochet stitches and apply them into 7" x 9" blocks that are then sewn into afghans donated to various charities. As their skills become more advanced, the men move on to crocheting booties, caps, scarves and snowflakes that are given to children during the Christmas holidays.

The organizations include:

  •        Warm-Up America
  •        Baby hats to the Capitol Project
  •        Infant hats and booties to the Christ the Child program
  •        Preemie blankets to local hospitals
  •        Afghans to the Shriners
  •        Chemo caps for cancer survivors
  •        Scarves and bear carriers to the OSCI Parenting Program



The success of this program is that the inmates learn pro-social behavioral skills, life skills, personal development and a sense of contributing to society. And the organizations receive lovely, warm and functional hand-crocheted items that are used in times of comfort.