Prisoners donate funds to help ex-homeless youth: Chester, PA FWD

Tom Boland (
Thu, 27 May 1999 10:44:14 -0700 (PDT)
FWD  Philadelphia Daily News - May 19, 1999
     [Delaware County, PA]


     Mark Kram - Daily News Sports Writer

The simple fact that the inmates at the State Correctional Institution at
Chester earn just 19 cents an hour did not stop them from stepping up on
behalf of Joey Jones, the 13-year-old state-champion figure skater from
Southwest Philadelphia who once lived in a homeless shelter.

Collecting donations among themselves in sums as large as $53 and as small
as 43 cents, the inmates yesterday presented a check for $1,000 to the Joey
Jones Skating Fund in a small ceremony in the prison courtyard attended by
Joey and his mother, Karen. Staff at the prison contributed an additional
$220.50 to the fund, which was set up by the Daily News following a March
16 article on Joey that stirred overwhelming reader response.

The total currently in the fund stands at $10,313.50.

Help also has been promised by Flyers owner Ed Snider, who has said he
would pick up whatever athletic-related expenses Joey incurs through his
appearance in the American State Games in St. Louis in August.

"This is just amazing to me," Karen Jones said in the prison courtyard. "I
am just so overwhelmed by how generous everyone has been."

Joey shook his head in wonder and observed, "I just hope I can keep
doing well."

Two inmates spearheaded the donation drive for Joey at SCI Chester: Anthony
Casey, 31, and Clement Butterfield, 40. Touched by the original story that
appeared in the Daily News, Casey and Butterfield received permission from
prison officials to take up a collection for Joey and began soliciting
contributions. Ultimately, some 700 of the 880 inmates at the prison
donated to the fund.

"I read the article and thought, 'We should do something,' " said Casey,
who has served six years on what he said was a "firearms violation."

"I remember I wanted to swim when I was his age, but it was discouraged. I
suppose every one of us in here had a dream once."

Said Butterfield, who has served just over two years in connection with the
theft of a pickup truck: "Some of the people in here faced the same
struggles that Joey and his mom faced - being homeless at one point and so
on. Some of us could have used someone to step in and help and never got
it. We hope he goes far."

Prison officials characterized the donations as an effort on the part of
the inmates to repent.

"Remember, some of these guys have taken a great deal from the community,"
said Mark Jackson, a unit manager at the prison. "This is their way of
giving something back, of sharing a common goal and performing a
philanthropic act. Some of these guys see themselves or even their own
children in Joey. He represents hope to them."

Superintendent Mary V. Leftridge Byrd encourages the inmates to perform
charitable acts. "What we hope to do here is promote the concept of
responsible adulthood," she said. "This is one way that we can do that."

While Byrd and members of her staff looked on, Joey chatted with Casey and
Butterfield. Cheerfully, the two inmates asked Joey for his autograph,
wondered if he had ever gotten "those new skates that you need" (he did)
and offered their encouragement.

"Make good choices," Butterfield said. "Keep your eyes on the path ahead."

Joey nodded and said he would.

Casey then grinned and added, "We got your back, little brother. Good luck."


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