WALLA WALLA, Wash. -

When Tamara Russell took a job as prison psychologist in 2010 at the Washington State Penitentiary she found many mentally ill inmates were over-medicated and separated from the rest of the population.

She is credited with creating therapeutic activities for some of the state most dangerous mentally ill offenders.

The Union-Bulletin reports she recently was named outstanding clinician for 2013 by the American Psychological Association.

The prison activities included a program called "kittens in the klink" in which inmates raise motherless kittens until they're ready for adoption. Inmates with math and reading ability are used as tutors to help others study for a GED. Prisoners also grow flowers for nursing homes and crochet plastic bags into bath mats for a homeless shelter.

The crochet hooks are carefully counted.