Jail Inmates Knit for the Needy

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LOGAN, Utah (AP) -- Jail inmates are spending hours knitting caps, blankets and booties for children around the world.

"We might all be criminals," said David Evans, 25, of Blackfoot, Idaho, "but some of us have big hearts."

The pastime at the Cache County Jail in northern Utah began about two years ago. The handmade crafts go to a group called Save the Children or to humanitarian efforts organized by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Inmates have knitted more than 300 hats this year, about half with matching booties. They also have stitched mittens and small blankets.

"We are like an army," said Jane DeSpain, a Mormon Relief Society president who organized the project. "There are humanitarian projects going on all over the world. They are part of that."

Jail officials said they were wary about putting knitting needles, a potential weapon, in the hands of inmates. But there have been no incidents. The needles are counted and collected before 30 to 40 prisoners return to their minimum-security blocks.

"Anytime you are doing something good for someone else, you are improving yourself," said Capt. Kim Cheshire, jail commander. "That isn't just for the inmates; that's for the rest of us."

One man created a large hat that resembled the one worn by the cat in Dr. Seuss' "Cat In The Hat." It stretched more than 3 feet, with broad red and white stripes and a braided tassel. Folded beneath was a child's hat to match.

Justin Paz, 19, of Logan recently was making a blue baby blanket. As his tattooed hand worked the needles, he thought about the child, probably a boy, who would snuggle with it.

Paz said he's hooked on a hobby that is "helping somebody."

"Honestly, when I get out, I'm going to buy one of these," he said of the knitting tools.

(Information taken from The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com)

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