Patuxent Institution’s Women Inmates Donate 113 Quilts to Charity
For the past twelve years, the women inmates at Patuxent Institution in Jessup, a correctional facility of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS), have been sewing and stitching up a storm for a good cause. Every autumn, a dozen or so participants hand make quilts, thanks to donated materials and a team of dedicated outside volunteer quilting instructors. This year, the team outdid itself, handing over 113 quilts to two charities: St. Ann’s home for young mothers and babies in Hyattsville and St. Vincent Center for abused children in the Baltimore area.
“A lot of the quilters who come in here have never even threaded a needle,” says Inge Stocklin, who once owned a quilt shop, and, upon closing it amid several significant events in her life, wondered what to do next. She found out when Dr. Erin Shaffer, the Director of Behavioral Sciences at Patuxent Institution, happened to ask Inge to restore a quilt. To her credit, Dr. Shaffer recognized the great potential value in quilting for her women inmates. And to her credit, Inge Stocklin wasn’t so overwhelmed at the thought of coming into prison that she dismissed the idea.
A dozen years later, that idea has resulted in 685 inmate-made quilts being donated to centers for crisis pregnancies, abused and neglected children, and preemie hospital wards, among other places. It’s truly one of the best restorative justice inmate programs in the DPSCS.
This year, as in years past, the volunteers saw to it that the inmate quilts were among those displayed---and judged for their beauty--- at the Howard County Fair. And, without knowing the quilts were inmate-made, the judges awarded ribbons to two of them.
“All these quilts,” says an inmate quilter named Donna, “reflect our emotions, our character, and our hopes for the future.”
The annual Patuxent Quilt Show in November featured beautiful quilts and other inmate-made items filling a room. Ms. Stocklin and Sandy McDonald and other volunteer quilters looked at the finished products with pride and amazement. Several inmates spoke about “giving back” to society by quilting.
Sister Mary Bader, the director of St. Ann’s Infant and Maternity Home in Hyattsville---one of this year’s quilt recipients--- told the ladies how much the gift means to the young mothers and children there. “You need to know that your labor of love is being carried back to St. Ann’s,” said Sister Mary. “Your life is being changed, and you’re also changing the lives of our teen moms.”