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Stafford Creek’s Pumpkin Painting Party

October 27, 2015

By Gary Bohon, Correctional Program Manager

Stafford Creek Corrections Center

Families enjoyed creatively painting their pumpkins.

Families enjoyed creatively painting their pumpkins.

ABERDEEN – Stafford Creek Corrections Center’s visit room hosted an evening of pumpkin painting fun October 16, to help inmates maintain contact and improve family relationships during their incarceration. As part of the October Family Fun Night (FFN), participants were allowed to pick out pumpkins grown right on the facility’s grounds and decorate them with a multitude of acrylic colors.

To participate in FFN, which happens every other month, inmates only need to sign up. It is “enhanced” visitation, so it truly is open to everyone. Previous activities have included bingo, decorating pots in which they plant seeds, arts and crafts, and decorating pillowcases and t-shirts with fabric paints. Each FFN is eagerly anticipated and many inmates offer their thanks for being allowed to participate in the activities with their loved ones.

October’s FFN is always a popular one, and several years ago the facility shifted from purchased pumpkins to inmate-grown gourds. The inmate and staff gardeners keep an eye on their crop for the best fruits (yes, pumpkins are fruits!) and delivered over 130 of them to the visit room in a custom-painted Halloween trailer. That is when things got really interesting. The pumpkins themselves filled an entire no-contact visit room, and folks got to pick from a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colors.

When it came time to put the paint on the pumpkins, the creativity that can be seen on the pumpkins from the visitors and inmates alike is astounding, and smiles abound. Add to that some spooky cupcakes provided by the bakers in the kitchen, you have the makings of some very good memories for everybody involved.

At the end of the evening, the families cart their decorated pumpkins home to help them remember and celebrate all that Fall brings, while the inmates cherish those memories and strengthened bonds they have made.

All correctional facilities in Washington provide opportunities for family-centered programs with the goals of reducing the likelihood of recidivism and breaking the cycle of intergenerational incarceration.