HOUSTON – Christmas comes only once a year and for the inmates at the Chickasaw County Regional Correctional Facility it is a time to share the meaning of the season through decoration and artwork.
Warden Brand Huffman and the staff of the facility sponsored the third annual art contest at the regional jail to help boost morale among those incarcerated and, once again, the entries showed great imagination and resourcefulness. With very limited items distributed through the pods, the artists turned out festive decorations and posters for judging.
“Each of the pods were provided one poster board and several pieces of construction paper,” Huffman said. “This is our annual event and I think it does boost the offender morale. Hopefully, by keeping the Christmas spirit alive in the offenders, when they return to the community they came from, they will not have lost the vision and reason for the Christmas season.”
Each pod was judged for a poster entry and decorations within the unit.
Sharing blessings and gifts
The CCRCF staff also enlists the support of the community to help provide a small gift to each of the inmates at the facility and this year the response was overwhelming.
Churches, civic groups, businesses and individuals were asked to donate a small bag with toiletry items for each offender to receive on Christmas day.
“This year, during the month of December, the community and churches gave over and above,” said Chaplain Randy Hays. “We had requested 430 bags for the offender population at the Regional and County jails.”
The anticipated number of inmates was lower than expected and the amount of gift bags donated was much higher than the number requested, leading the staff to share the gifts with other facilities in the area.
“By Christmas Eve, we had been given approximately 625 bags,” Hays said. “We were able to give (a bag to) each offender at our facilities in Chickasaw as well as each offender in the Calhoun County jail, Oktibbeha County jail, Pontotoc County jail and Union County jail. What a blessing!”
Huffman said the gesture may not seem much, but is deeply appreciated by those incarcerated during the holidays.
“The offenders were very thankful and it helps them to remember that there are people on the outside that care even though they are incarcerated,” Huffman said. “We have offenders at our facility that do not have family that reach out to them during this season or any other time. That bag may be the only thing they receive from someone on the outside all year. From the offenders and staff at CCRCF, we would like to say thanks.”