SALT LAKE CITY — The program "Pillows for Prisoners," in partnership with Sheriff Rosie Rivera and the Salt Lake County Jail, donated and distributed 300 pillows to women who are incarcerated within the Salt Lake County Jail.
Organizers hope the pillows bring a bit of comfort and are a reminder to incarcerated women facing hardships they they can change their lives for the better.
Donations for the pillows were collected through community members and through a partnerships. Due to security concerns, pillows are purchased directly through the jail's commissary supplier, so the organization collects donations and gives them to the county in order to purchase the pillows.
The "Pillows for Prisoners" initiative was taken on by the older sisters of a woman named Celeste Suite, who was incarcerated in 2017 after she was a victim of sexual assault in college and turned to drugs and alcohol to self-medicate.
Cassandra Suite-Smith and Sabrena Suite-Mangum had no idea what jail was like before their younger sister was incarcerated. The first thing Celeste asked for was a pillow and that's when they learned just how difficult it is for inmates to receive many necessities - but especially pillows.
Although they were able to secure a pillow for their sister, they realized that not all incarcerated women have resources on the outside to help them. They decided to take action to help other women feel loved and valued.
This year is especially sweet for the Suite family because Celeste has given birth to a baby boy and has found joy and stability in her new family and life.
"We hope that like this gift of pillows, Celeste’s story will bring hope to those inside and outside the jail, and instill more compassion in our community. We’re proud of the work Celeste has done," Sabrena Suite-Mangum, co-founder and Executive Director of Pillows for Prisoners said. "We are equally thankful for the donations from members all over the community and the work of Sheriff Rivera and her team to make this gift possible – especially with all the pandemic restrictions.”
“It is wonderful that we are here today celebrating Celeste’s recovery and accomplishments by supporting other incarcerated women who may be experiencing the same hardships that Celeste did in 2017. I hope these pillows are a comforting reminder that these women can also change their lives by taking advantage of the services at the Salt Lake County Jail and in the community,” Sheriff Rosie Rivera commented.
Over the last five years, more than 2,200 pillows have been bought through donations from the Pillows for Prisoners program for women in the jail. To learn more about the initiative or to donate, click here.