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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of West Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 13, 2016

Inmate art for charity auction to benefit West Virginia youth now on display at United States Courthouse in Charleston

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A variety of inmate art is currently on display at the Robert C. Byrd United States Courthouse in Charleston in preparation for a charity auction to benefit West Virginia youth, announced United States Attorney Carol Casto. Federal and state inmates, as well as young people in the custody of the West Virginia Division of Juvenile Services, created the art for “Giving Back with HeART,” a charity art auction. The event is put together by Mission West Virginia, a non-profit organization, in partnership with the West Virginia Division of Corrections, the West Virginia Division of Juvenile Services, Highland Hospital, and some of West Virginia’s federal correctional facilities.

The art on display at the United States Courthouse is entirely provided by inmates and includes handcrafted musical instruments, paintings, pencil drawings, dioramas, leatherwork, and many more examples of unique artistic creations. The charity auction that will feature this art provides a way for inmates serving time in West Virginia to give back to the community and be an integral part of helping others. Proceeds from the auction provide scholarships for youth in West Virginia who experienced foster care or had a parent incarcerated for a year or more during childhood. Research shows that nearly half of former foster youth will end up homeless or incarcerated within the first two years on their own because they lack the skills to live independently. Organizers of this event have found that many of the inmates who contribute art were a part of the foster system themselves at one time.

“I encourage everyone to visit the United States Courthouse to see this impressive art showcase,” said United States Attorney Carol Casto. “This program taps the incredible creativity of these inmates, and provides them the opportunity to give back to children who have been negatively impacted by crime. These folks have value and talent and are sharing it in a positive and productive way to provide opportunities for kids that most of them did not have growing up.”  

This year’s charity auction will be held at the Culture Center at the Capitol Complex in Charleston on October 20 at 6:00 p.m., where the art currently on display in the United States Courthouse, as well as additional art created by West Virginia inmates, will be made available for bidding. The art will remain on display at the United States Courthouse until the day before the charity auction. This is the third annual charity auction to feature inmate art. With proceeds from last year’s event, and additional assistance from private donors, Mission West Virginia was able to award $20,000 in scholarships to youth starting college this fall. As the event grows, the eventual goal is to make an award to every scholarship applicant. As a result of the auction, Mission West Virginia was also able to launch “The Bridge,” a program of comprehensive support for children from kindergarten through high school that includes providing academic mentoring and working with foster families on how to best advocate for their children.

Mission West Virginia is a non-profit organization that collaborates with public, private, and faith communities by equipping them to utilize existing resources to form new partnerships, encouraging innovative social change, and building stronger communities in West Virginia. More information about the charity art auction and this art program can be found at http://missionwv.org/giving-back-with-heart/.

Topic(s): 
Community Outreach
Updated October 13, 2016