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A poem for CCQ students

CCQ classroomA presentation of our quilting program was made at the August CCCF Prison Advisory Committee meeting. Instructors described the program and a panel of four students told the committee what the program meant to them. Tom Swearingen, co-chair of the Advisory Committee and a cowboy poet, wrote a poem about our program. He was touched by the work our students do and wrote this poem to celebrate their efforts.



For the Coffee Creek Inmate Quilters

So, you say you want to be a giver, not a taker any more
And you’re committed to spend the time to tackle that big chore.
You’re working through the changes that you know you need to make
To get yourself together, no more hearts you want to break.
Including yours, because you know the trail that you’ve been on
Is one that leads to nowhere, except all kinds of wrong.
Why, it’s the one that brought you to the place you are right now
But you know there is a better path, and you’ll get on to it somehow.
Oh, it won’t be easy, it’s no quick short cut
It’s going to take full effort of your brains, your heart, your gut.
And support from good people that will help you make it through
And show you how to navigate the troubles you’ll come to.
But get on that good new road, and your future will unroll
You‘ll see the bright horizon even from the darkest hole.
You start by picking pieces of your life up off the floor
And putting them back together, but better than before.
Kind of like a quilter taking scraps and spools of thread
And creating a thing of beauty to grace a child’s bed.
Or making a treasure of memories for an old man’s final days
Stitching quits, giving comfort, in so many lives and ways.
Those little squares of yellow, they came from a worn out skirt
And that patch of blue that makes the sky, is from an old work shirt.
But it’s no matter where those scraps are from, or what they’ve all been through
It’s how they’re stitched together now, to make something clean and new.
So, you want to be a giver, not a taker any more
Grab some thread, and pick those pieces off the floor.
-Tom Swearingen

Prison quilting, Women in prison

Emily Salisbury speaks at CCQ meeting

Emily Salisbury speaks at CCQ meetingEmily Salisbury, an Assistant Professor in Criminology at Portland State University, spoke at the March CCQ member meeting about the unique needs and risks of women offenders. She explained that women who commit crimes have often experienced lives of extreme poverty, child abuse, ongoing adult victimization, low educational achievement, mental illness, self-medicating behavior with ­alcohol or other drugs, unhealthy intimate relationships, parental stress, and low levels of self-esteem and self-efficacy.

In Oregon the same assessment procedures are used for both women and men entering prison. Dr. Salisbury advocates for using a risk/needs assessment instrument developed specifically for women offenders by the National Institute of Corrections. She also argues that treatment programs designed for women should be made available to as many female offenders as possible, not just to women with the highest risk of reoffending.

Dr. Salisbury spoke highly of the CCQ program because it offers incarcerated women a safe, respectful place to practice new behaviors. We model healthy relationships which can be especially important for women who have been victimized. For more about Dr. Salisbury’s background and a list of the classes she teaches, see her profile page on the Portland State University website.

Criminal justice trends, Women in prison

CCQ featured on

The Quilt Coffee Creek Quilters is featured in a video available from, a web-based “TV show” produced by Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims. The segment on CCQ is part of TQS episode #1205, “Picture This: Simplified Pictorial Piecing” with Sue Rasmussen, a quilter who teaches simplified piecing techniques for landscape and pictorial quilts. The complete show runs 52 minutes.

The CCQ segment was filmed this past August at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility by a TQS film crew. It includes interviews with CCQ past president Mary Ann McCammon and several of our students in the Tuesday morning class. It gives viewers a unique opportunity to see how a prison quilting program is run.

TQS episode #1205 is available to paid subscribers to the starting February 25, 2013. If you are a TQS subscriber, you can view it any time at your convenience.

The show will also be available to non-subscribers at no charge for one week: March 3 – March  10, 2013. To view the episode during the free period, you need to have a Basic (free) membership. To sign up for a Basic membership, follow these steps:

1. Connect to with this link: Episode 1205

2. Fill out the registration form for Basic membership.

3. If you decide you want to upgrade to Star membership, you can receive a 20% discount with coupon code #233431361101.

We thank for their generosity in creating the video segment about our quilting program and hope you will find an opportunity to watch it.


Prison quilting, Women in prison