Christmas at the State Penitentiary

BISMARCK, N.D - Inmates at the state prison had an opportunity to bring Christmas cheer to one another.

More than 700 inmates at the North Dakota State Penitentiary participated in a holiday decorating contest.

They were given construction paper, tape and scissors, and they brought their creativity to light up their home away from home.

“I try to bring the Christmas spirit to the guys that are here. I mean, we don’t have much of it," said Thomas Mason, inmate.

Mason has been at the State Penitentiary for 18 years.

“These guys in here are my family. They’ve been my family for a long time,” said Mason.

Prison staff say this decorating contest brings inmates together.

“Sometimes the holidays here can be stressful for guys because they don’t have the family connection. This definitely helps bring everybody together,” said Tyler Fleckenstein, Prison Case Manager.

“All you have to do is look and see what kind of effort we had. Cause, I mean, I think we did a fantastic job,” Mason added.

Mason says more than 70% of inmates in the West unit at the prison, helped decorate.

Staff at the state pen say the South Unit was the winner

But win or lose, Mason says the most important part about this was brining everyone together.