Somerset County Jail Offers Knitting Program for Inmates

Published: Dec. 27, 2017 at 4:28 PM EST
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Officials at the Somerset County Jail recently launched a knitting program.

It's an effort to get inmates to give back and to better prepare them for life on the outside.

"It's a move towards evidence-based programming," said Sheriff Dale Lancaster.

The idea was brought to Sheriff Lancaster in the fall of last year.

Offer inmates a chance to knit hats that would be donated to people in need.

"Reattach to the community and reattach to helping people," he said. "So far it's been extremely positive. It's on a voluntary basis. You are credited for participating in these programs and can ultimately reduce your stay."

"This is like my third hat, and I'm starting to enjoy it quite a bit," said Roxanne Mattson, an inmate at the jail.

She is among those volunteering.

"I was interested just to see if I would like it, to help pass time maybe, donate hats," she said.

So far they've given more than 500 hats to 12 different non-profits.

The goal is to prepare inmates for life outside the jail walls and to make sure they stay out. Lancaster tells the story of one - now former inmate - who used the program to change her ways.

"She was an alcoholic," he explained. "This knitting program, she had decided that when she felt stress or needed to do something other than consume alcohol, she was going to knit and she has not been back into the facility since she left."

"I was recently able to make one for my son for Christmas," said Mattson. "So, I got to pick the colors he wanted. It was pretty awesome to give him a Christmas gift from the jail."

"I think it will be a good coping skill," she said. "Good for staying busy. And I absolutely will be working. I would want to get my own loom set and probably just keeping making hats and donate them as well."