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Inmates’ Bead Projects Win Four First Place Ribbons at Evergreen State Fair

October 2, 2015

By Dr. James Davison and Michelle Scallon,

Monroe Correctional Complex

Beaded crafts and the winning blue ribbons.

The award winning beaded crafts.

MONROE — Three Monroe Correctional Complex inmates won blue ribbons at the 2015 Evergreen State Fair in the open class division of the crafts and hobbies competition.

The inmates are all part of the Crossroads transitional mental health program. The program is designed to create an opportunity for inmates with a mental illness to be successful and receive treatment while in a minimum security work camp setting. It helps inmates improve their pro-social skills prior to their release from prison. Participants engage with group activities including peer awareness meetings, mental health groups, and developing education and job-related skills. They also learn how to set goals, manage stress, and effectively interact with others.

All the inmates who won blue ribbons said making the crafts and receiving the ribbons boosted their self-esteem and overall mental health.

“When people see my work and compliment me, it lifts my spirits and lessens my depression,” said Daniel Stewart, who won for a 3,148 bead necklace he made sporting the Seattle Seahawks’ team colors that took 20 hours to make. “When I bead, it helps me take my mind off of things and helps me focus and think.”

Cory Hinton made a beaded Seahawks helmet. It contained more than 4,000 beads and took 42 hours to make. He said he’s thankful beading has given him a creative outlet and hopes his work inspires others.

“Hopefully, this will encourage other people to get involved and so something positive with themselves,” Hinton said. “It helps keep me out of trouble, having something to do with my hands all of the time. It helps my mind escape prison for a few hours a day.”

Neal Miller came away with two blue ribbons, each for three-dimensional origami projects. One featured a family of penguins that contained over 380 pieces and the other featured a group of fish that contained over 1,000 pieces. Miller spent a total of 46 hours folding paper and assembling the pieces. He admitted he was “a little skeptical” about whether or not his projects were good enough to be displayed, but said winning the ribbons has filled him with pride.

“My biggest reward was the sense of achievement that I earned for myself,” Miller said. “For anybody that has been to prison multiple times and suffers from mental health issues such as mine, they should try being a winner because it is an awesome feeling.”