This story is one to be filed under the “Faith In Humanity Restored” department.
Inmates across the state of Texas were well aware of the devastation caused by hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.
However, upon noticing that aid for Texans hit by Hurricane Harvey — which preceded both Hurricanes Irma and Maria — was dwindling in recent weeks, they decided to do something about it.
The inmates pooled their commissary incomes — money that comes from families or from working prison-based jobs used to purchase hygiene products, snacks, and other items — and in one month, raised almost $54,000 toward helping victims of Hurricane Harvey, The New York Times reports.
Less than 6,700 inmates were able to raise $53,863 for relief efforts. It’s not the first time that prisoners in Texas have sought to help after a hurricane. Back in 2005, after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita similarly struck the Gulf Coast, inmates also raised more than $44,000 from their commissary accounts to help out.
This is particularly remarkable given that most commissary accounts typically have less than $5 in them, according to The New York Times. Their efforts will also help those who guard the prison — Uproxx reports that several correctional officers’ homes were also hit by the storm.
“These men and women...saw the television reports and saw what was happening," said Jason Clark, a spokesperson for the Texas Criminal Justice Department. "Straight away, [inmates were] asking what they could do."
Commissary vending is a for-profit business with huge profits. It also costs a lot more for families and inmates to get the products they want or need. With those factors in mind, using even a portion of their commissary spending to fundraise for a humanitarian cause is nothing short of miraculous.
Banner and thumb image credit: Andrees Latif/Reuters