They might be convicted criminals, but when it came to the heartbreaking devastation left by Hurricane Harvey this summer, they became heroes of sorts.
Inmates in Texas’ criminal justice system wanted to help those impacted by the Category 4 hurricane, which caused $200 billion in damage in the state.
“They were requesting to donate money,” said Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jason Clark. “It’s just something they chose to do.”
Nearly 6,600 Texas prisoners have donated more than $53,000 of their commissary funds to the American Red Cross, Dallas News reported.
The inmates mostly donated money from their small allowances -- $95 every two weeks – that are used for purchasing paper, pencils, and personal hygiene items.
Each inmate contributed $8, on average, while others were able to give hundreds of dollars.
In addition to monetary donations, inmates and officers have been working hard to repair five facilities that were damaged by Hurricane Harvey.
Nearly 7,000 inmates were evacuated from prisons and treatment centers across the state after the hurricane flooded huge swaths of the state. The storm also left hundreds of prison employees without homes.
“There were literally people who worked through the storm and didn’t have a home to go back to,” Texas Department of Criminal Justice executive director Bryan Collier told the Dallas News.
So the inmates and the employees worked together to rebuild damaged facilities.
“They had us take down sheetrock, and this whole floor was just like dark brown,” said inmate Trusty Adam Hernandez. “You couldn’t even see the floor.”
Terrell Prison employee Sharika Patterson, whose home was destroyed by the storm, said she’s trying to remain positive while she works on repairs.
“I’m working. I’ve got to move forward,” Patterson said. “I try to laugh to keep from crying.”
Officials from the state’s Department of Corrections do not yet know how much the damages will cost, but they have already spent $3 million on overtime wages.