In the drabness of prison, colorful items are treasured
There are over 130,000 people in Texas prisons (August 2019 report). Prisons are often drab, deliberately devoid of color. A few years ago, colorful objects from outside were further restricted.
In 2020, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) further narrowed the types of mail that inmates could receive, to reduce drug-laced papers. Families and friends could now only send mail on plain white copy paper, with no textures or colors allowed.
In 2021, due to advocacy from loved ones on the outside, the TDCJ amended the rules to allow colorful cards to prisoners on Mother's Day, Father's Day, and Christmas. The Lioness Justice Impacted Women's Alliance (Lioness JIWA) sends colorful holiday cards to women in prison during the two-week window for holiday cards.
Tiny pops of color, including cards, hair ties, photos, or even a postage stamp can help someone cope with the doom and gloom of being incarcerated. the lowest moments and reminds them that there is a future to look forward.
“It might seem silly to think that a single red ribbon could actually mean something to a woman in prison, or that having that ribbon taken away could impact her mental health and recovery." - Dina Bachman, journalist for the Texas Monthly
It absolutely can. There's a need for more color, creative outlets, humanizing experiences, and skill building within prisons to better position people for successful reentry. A study of prison-based mental healthcare confirmed the need for trauma-informed care, improved dynamics between guards and inmates, and overall increases in mental health supports.
Read the article for additional context and stories from incarcerated women: https://www.texasmonthly.com/style/incarcerated-and-in-search-of-color/
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