Hobbies in a Federal Prison Camp

One of the things that impressed me about the BOP is that the educational and recreational department encouraged the inmates to take up a hobby.

Catalogs were available and provided to inmates for ordering supplies. Forms were easy to fill out for release of inmate commissary funds to order and purchase supplies. They even provided a hobby card to inmates who participated in hobbies so that their materials were not considered contraband.

Here is an example of one hobby that was well received by the inmates at the prison camp where I was. Leather craft, from a simple leather piece keychain with an initial stamped on it to an elaborate purse design for those with advanced skills. Classes were held each quarter for inmates who wanted to learn leather craft and the classes were always full.

Inmates took great pride in the leather work they accomplished because it was a way of creating something for their parents, spouse or kids to receive as gifts. Many nights I watch as men sued their wallets together and delicately painting patterns of unique designs. I was motivating to see men of different races share in a common goal and helping each other.

Another hobby that a lot of inmates took to heart was drawing. I saw a lot of beautiful drawings being created and most of them were drawings of family members. I myself took up drawing with colored pencils and practiced calligraphy.

One inmate wrote a book, another did oil paintings and a few were musicians playing guitar and teaching others who had an interest.

Hobbies were the one thing that brought harmony to a federal prison camp and they were highly respected and admired by the BOP staff and inmates.


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