Inmates become business savvy at special craft fair and parade

Sunday, December 2, 2012 - 10:00pm

Inmates and staff at Elayn Hunt Correctional Center hosted a Christmas parade and craft show for the St. Gabriel community Sunday.

Joshua Alleman is serving time at Elayn Hunt Correctional Center, but one day a year he gets the chance to be a real artist.

"It feels real good," Alleman, said.

His artwork lines the fence at the correctional center's Christmas craft fair.

"The past two months I've been preparing by doing acrylic paintings and stuff to sell to try and send my children some money for Christmas," Alleman explained. "Just try to help my mom with bills and what not."

People come from all across the parish to purchase the handmade goods ranging from wooden boats to clothing. The inmates work for months to finish the pieces and in the process learn new skills.

"It teaches me patience, self control, how to manage my money properly," Kenneth Killion, inmate, said.

Killion learned how to make jewelry behind bars. He hopes his art will make him a successful businessman, at least for Sunday.

"You invest money," Killion said. "You don't know whether or not the product is going to sell. You don't know how big the crowd is going to be. So we pretty much go through what the retailers on the street go through."

"A lot of the inmates here are doing life sentences," Deputy Warden Tim Hooper, Elayn Hunt Correctional Center, said. "Where a lot of them it's been 30 40 years their family is dead and gone. We're their family and it's a means of income for them. "

Prisoners say the craft fair and parade are a good way to give back to the community and help reconnect them to people outside the prison

"It's good to make a craft to sell to the public to make them happy, because, we don't have anything else to do here," Killion retorted. "It aids our rehabilitation."

"It helps you to look towards a brighter future when you return to society," Alleman exclaimed. "It allows you to look, see how people really like your work. "

The highlight of the day is a Christmas parade which rolls through the neighborhood surrounding the correctional center. Dozens of people lined the streets to catch candy and wave hello to Santa.

"It brings out the community and lets them know this really is not a bad place," Deputy Warden Hooper, told FOX44. "Although we do have bad people here; they want to get back to the community."

The Hunt Correctional Center Christmas parade tradition started in the late 1970's. Two years ago the warden added the craft fair.

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