Low-risk, female inmates at Downtown Los Angeles’s Twin Towers jail design and deliver over 1,000 warm blankets to children who are sick or in foster care each year, just in time for the cold winter.
The name of the program is “999 for Kids,” according to local NBC News affiliate in Los Angeles. It is named after the LA Sheriff’s Department’s radio code for help.
“I was in foster care myself,” said inmate Saffiyyah Salaam to NBC. Despite her situation behind bars, Saffiyyah said making the blankets for the children “makes me feel good about myself and like I’m doing a good job.” Another inmate even said the kind act made her feel as if she were purging some of her past transgressions.
Nearly all the women doing time in Twin Towers have children of their own. Mother of five, Charlene Carter, who is reportedly doing time on drug charges, has five children who have all been in foster care. She said her youngest son, 15, received one of the blankets her fellow inmates made several years back. “He saved it all this time,” Carter told NBC. “Just because we are incarcerated, it doesn’t mean that we can’t give back to the community,” she said as she tried unsuccessfully to fight back tears.
The program has reportedly also helped foster better communication between the female inmates. The blankets are being paid for with money from concessions and vending machines within the jail.
California is home to approximately 59,000 foster kids, with close to 20,000 of them located in Los Angeles County alone.
Adelle Nazarian is on Twitter @AdelleNaz.