Pillows for Prisoners

For: Female Inmates at the Salt Lake County Jail
Salt Lake City, UT
Organizer: The Suite Sisters
Pillows for Prisoners (Female Inmates at the Salt Lake County Jail)
of $20,000 goal
55% Complete
Raised by 232 donors

The Story

The What: Pillows for Prisoners began as an initiative to get pillows to female inmates in the Salt Lake County Jail for the holidays.

The Catalyst: When our younger sister was incarcerated earlier this summer for a non-violent crime, a pillow was one of the first things she asked for. 

The Wake-Up Call: Prior to her incarceration, we had never experienced having a loved-one in jail. We did not realize that inmates did not get pillows. 

While our sister has spent years under the influence of alcohol and drugs, and even been through rehab about a decade ago, it was not until recently we discovered she was the victim of sexual assault when she was drugged at a party her freshman year of college--just 17 years old, while she was on scholarship playing volleyball at a small STEM university in Arizona.

The college incident changed the direction of her life and our family’s – but by the time we found out what had happened, years of shaming, victim blaming and abuse had already occurred. She had been trying to self-medicate for decades. 

We’ve learned through her experience that even if an inmate had money to purchase a pillow through commissary, the process takes multiple days – or even more than a week to get a pillow--depending on when they are processed, and when their order date is, etc. But Celeste shared that in her "Pod" of 60 women, only 5 or 6 had pillows.

60% of women in jail have not been convicted of a crime. 

We know our sister is not innocent. She knows she is not innocent. We also know that like our sister, many of the inmates are products of circumstance. We think that every prisoner deserves to have a place to rest their head. If we could help facilitate making their stay a little less traumatic–especially during the holidays–we would like to help.

While we have experience in service and outreach projects in various sectors of the community – from House of Hope to the Road Home, and even our refugee population – this experience with our sister, pointed out our own ignorance, and the reality that inmates are a forgotten public to the general public. We’d like to do something to change that.

Why only the women? We’re brand new to this sort of endeavor; and while we've dabbled in community service and outreach in plenty of other spaces, gifts to inmates is way outside our typical bailiwick. So we had to start somewhere. Our introduction to the jail system is limited at best, but we knew we wanted to do something; and our experience began with one female inmate, our sister–so that’s where we started.

How it Works: Funds raised are turned over to Salt Lake County and earmarked for pillows. The jail makes a mass order and pillows will be distributed to incarcerated females for the holidays. Our hope is that even if these women are spending Christmas in jail, with a gift of a pillow comes a small assurance that someone is thinking of them--with hopes and prayers for a better life as they lay their head down to rest during a special, but often particularly difficult time of year. Just $11 can make a difference. 

Fundraiser Updates

Posted on April 2, 2018


Posted on April 2, 2018

Greetings P4P Community, 

We've got a few updates for you on where the project currently stands. 

We've been working with legal counsel (Sabrena's Father-in-Law and a colleague from Parsons Behle & Latimer), to get our paperwork squared away to officially become a non-profit. 

And donations for the project keep coming in!

  • Last month, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams ("a friend of the program," if you will), with the County Council's approval, authorized an additional $500 from the Mayor's discretionary community fund to be allocated directly to the jail for the program.
  • Over the Spring Break and the Easter Holiday we received an additional $1000 in less than 24 hours -- making it our second largest fundraising day since we launched the program back in October 2017. (We may have cried: and by "may have," we mean: WE DID.) 

This is all especially good news as we're gearing back up for our next big gift coming in May for Mother's Day. 

The realities of female incarceration and motherhood are heart breaking. In addition to the sobering statistic that 80% of women in jail are mothers, most of them are single parents -- the primary caregivers for their families. 

That's why we've challenge our online Instagram community to think about an alternative gift this year for Mother's Day and consider donating a pillow in their honor. 

We hope you'll share our message of peace, love and pillows with your loved ones. Spring is certainly a time for renewal and to begin again -- and that is our hope for these women and mothers during this unique time of rebirth and reflection. 

Just $11 can make a difference. 

Peace, Love & Pillows, 

The Suite Sisters

Posted on December 23, 2017


Posted on December 23, 2017

What an incredible few days it's been for the Pillow for Prisoners Team! 

We had an incredible morning yesterday, delivering pillows to the inmates at the jail and ceremoniously presenting Sheriff Rosie Rivera with a pillow and a copy of the "card" we gave to each of the inmates (shown in the picture). 

We got an awesome write up in the Salt Lake Tribune that we encourage you to check out. It tells the story better than we could here, and we also got a little bit of local news coverage from the local ABC and FOX affiliate stations.

Peace, Love and Pillows indeed, 

The Suite Sisters for P4P 

post script. But seriously, check out the Trib article here

Posted on December 20, 2017


Posted on December 20, 2017

Happiest of holidays to you--our Pillows for Prisoners Family, 

We're reaching out to let you know of a few quick updates about the project. 

Today, we celebrate the magic number 637; because that is the number of pillows that Lt. Dietrich at the Salt Lake County Metro jailed ordered, and will be delivered in time for Christmas (this Friday actually!) With less than 350 female inmates currently housed at Salt Lake Metro, this donation is set to last throughout the holiday season. 

Speaking of donations, we passed $7,500 in donations this week -- and are already making plans for another big "pillow gift" for Mother's Day!

We've also been working on community outreach in a few unique ways as of late:

Sabrena got a chance to teach yoga at the Salt Lake Juvenile detention center to the female youth earlier this month, and Cassandra was able to present the pillows project to the women's organization at her church last Sunday. 

Additionally we officially launched an Instagram account for the project, so if you're on IG give us a follow @pillowsforprisoners. 

We are so thankful for your support and wish you the best of the season -- wherever or however you may celebrate. 

Peace, Love & Pillows, 

The Suite Sisters 

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