Inmates at Willacy County Jail memorialize victims of Uvalde shooting

Inmates at Willacy County Jail memorialize victims of Uvalde shooting
1 year 8 months 4 weeks ago Wednesday, August 24 2022 Aug 24, 2022 August 24, 2022 2:13 PM August 24, 2022 in News - Local

The world watched in horror and confusion after the mass shooting in Uvalde that claimed the lives of 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde.

"One of my friends in the dorm was connected to someone who lost their loved one in a tragedy," Joe Arzola - an inmate at the Willacy County jail - said.

Upon hearing the news, Arzola wanted to do a portrait for the family. However, he thought it was only right to memorialize all the victims, but he couldn't do it himself.

With the warden's permission, Arzola gathered the best artists in each unit. There were nine inmates total.

"When they told me, I was ready to get to it,"Michael Salinas said. "A lot of things came to mind. I mean, it was a tragedy and sad story. With every portrait, I just wanted to do my best."

The inmates said the portraits were a project they took personally. 

"Just to give something back to the families, and of course me being a father, I couldn't even begin to imagine what that must feel like," Pablo Sanchez said.

"It was out of love, of my heart for the person who was connected to the tragedy," Arzola said.

Recently, the portraits were presented to the families at Uvalde City Hall by jail staff.

"I was approached by a family member who said, 'we want to make a personal video outside the media for you to show to your inmate population to show how much we appreciate the thoughts and emotions put into these portraits,'" Warden at Willacy County Jail Bernadette Rodriguez said. 

Emotions of happiness and fulfillment, something not many in jail get to experience. 

Some inmates say they hope this will lead to a new start when they are released.

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