The Salem Statesman-Journal ran a story today highlighting the compassion of inmates in the Oregon State Penitentiary.  Guys inside the prison read a story about a 2-year-old girl who was hit by a truck and killed in November; her family was unable to afford a gravestone, so her grave was unmarked.

Inmates were touched by the story and donated $670 for a gravestone.  The money was collected from guys who generally make between $40 – $100 per month.  They had never met the girl or her family, but they had empathy for them and wanted to help.  More than just thinking about it, they dug deep and contributed in a very meaningful way.As one of the inmates said:  “Even though we’re in prison, we still have hearts.” 

Some of the guys mentioned in the story have been my students.  I have been amazed by the generosity of inmates in donating to families and organizations in the community.  The feel compelled to give back in big and small ways, and – usually without public recognition or fanfare – they reach out with whatever help they can offer to children in need.

We don’t get to hear about these stories very often.  I’m glad to be able to post a positive story within the realm of public criminology.