A group of activists trying to raise awareness of what they say are abysmal conditions in the Richmond City Jail donated more than 2,000 pairs of socks to inmates just in time for Christmas — more than enough to cover the feet of the jail's population of about 1,400.
The organizers behind Socks for Inmates started a drive two weeks ago when they heard that residents at the city jail weren't provided socks with their uniforms and instead had to buy them for a little more than a dollar a pair at the facility's commissary. Because many of those at the jail are indigent, they go sockless, the activists say.
Sheriff C.T. Woody ignored the activists' criticisms of jail conditions last week when the socks were loaded into the back of a pickup truck and presented to him in front of the jail. Instead, he was all smiles and gratitude. "That's what I'm talking about," he says, walking up to the sock-bearing activists. "Wonderful! This is amazing. … Wow!"
The reaction was far more appreciative than the scolding tone jail officials struck upon first hearing of the sock drive. A spokesman said then that the group was misrepresenting conditions at the jail and asserted that the socks are unneeded because other charities already donate socks to poor inmates.
But the sock-drive organizers say they've heard otherwise. Whitney Whiting says the group understands that inmates are aware of the sock drive and excited that the packages of fresh, white socks are arriving.
Whiting says Socks for Inmates will continue monitoring conditions at the jail and plans to do what it can to hold city leaders accountable if poor conditions persist.