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Knitting Behind Bars


Photo: Lynn Zwerling

Forget snitching - the hot word in this Maryland prison is stitching. Behold, the most popular course in prison, Knitting Behind Bars by Lynn Zwerling, where even the most hardened criminals got hooked on the joy of knitting:

In late 2009, Lynn Zwerling stood in front of 600 male prisoners at the Pre-Release Unit in Jessup, Maryland. “Who wants to knit?” she asked the burly crowd. They looked at her like she was crazy.

Yet almost two years later, Zwerling and her associates have taught more than 100 prisoners to knit, while dozens more are on a waiting list to take her weekly class. “I have guys that have never missed one time in two years,” Zwerling says. “Some reported to us that they miss dinner to come to class.”

GOOD Magazine has the story: Link


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since it is a pre-release unit they aren't going to need to worry as much as if it were minimum or maximum security prison. They have shown that they are ready to be released from prison. Maybe when they are released some of them can get jobs in fiber shops.
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I'm pretty sure the supervisors will take as much care with the knitting needles as they do with knives in the kitchens or dangerous tools in the wood/metal shops. If anything, I'd expect metal needles to be less of a risk, given that you can use a metal detector to find them, whereas a sharp piece of plastic could only be discovered by a physical search.
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Wow, the naivete is astounding. Of course I'm sure they try to keep track of the needles. As for plastic not being dangerous, well, prisoners can make deadly objects out of pretty much anything they can get their hands on. They're quite resourceful.

I'm surprised that anybody would find knitting an unusual hobby for prisoners. I'm reminded of the fact that sailors - at least the old-timey ones - were experts at all sorts of crafts. It definitely would help to pass the time.
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I doubt they go "missing". I imagine they have a count of how many needles are handed out so they can make sure they get all of them back.

I can totally see how this would help. I find that sort of craft to be very relaxing, a great outlet for negative energy. Kudos to this woman for doing something to help rehabilitate prisoners, instead of just punishing them and making them unfit for normal society.
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Correct. In prison, you don't generally have access to objects like knitting needles or crocheting hooks unless they are plastic. You can order from art supply catalogs but you are restricted on what you can get. Note that crocheting with a plastic hook is way harder than with an aluminum one.
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