Arts in County Corrections

The Arts in Corrections program was one of the most successful programs in the history of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. In a 1983 cost benefit study, Professor Larry Brewster, currently on the faculty of the University of San Francisco, demonstrated that participants in the Arts in Corrections program showed a 75% reduction in disciplinary write-ups within six months of joining the program. This is an extraordinary measure of a program’s success.

Arts in Corrections began in 1978 in Santa Cruz County, through the William James Association and the vision of Eloise Smith. Our organization continues to be deeply involved in prison arts, both with CDCR and the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and has a wealth of experienced fine artists available to provide high quality programming.

The realignment of California corrections, which will bring many inmates and convicted felons into the county correctional system on October 1, 2011, is an opportunity to integrate arts programming into the jail system from the outset. Involvement in the arts offers several significant and obvious benefits:
1. The reduction in disciplinary problems can reduce staff time involved in policing and documenting negative behavior.
2. Arts activities in the jails can focus on serving different sectors of the community at large, strengthening ties between the incarcerated and their community.
3. Community service arts projects will state clearly to the community that the goal of the criminal justice system is rehabilitation, and that the community has an important role in that process.

Because the realignment process will begin slowly, an arts program will require little investment at the beginning. With a small investment, it can demonstrate its effectiveness, and create community support for expanding programming as the jail population grows.

Attached you will find descriptions and cost projections for three fine arts classes that I feel would yield excellent results for all concerned.

Jack Bowers, Chair
Board of Directors

Three Classes for a Fine Arts Program in Santa Cruz County Jails

1. Oral Poetry Project- This class will be formatted to nurture individual self expression through oral poetry. Participants will be encouraged to develop original poetry using audio recording, as well as writing as formats. If possible, the instructor will be capable of facilitating this process in both English and Spanish. As appropriate, the work will be shared with appropriate parts of the community, e.g., community radio, youth programs.
3- 12 week classes, 2 hours/ class, $75.00/class instructor fee $2700.00
Supplies 300.00
Total 3000.00

2. Jail Mural Project- The mural project is conceived as a way of making positive visual statements within the jail environment, to develop images that will contribute to reducing stress in the jail for all concerned. The mural should symbolize through a student generated process images of growth, rehabilitation and community.
20 3-hour classes at $100/class $2000.00
Supplies 700.00
Total $2700.00

3. Guitar Building Project- This is a long-term project to develop arts related skills that fit vocational opportunities in the community, as well as provide significant opportunities for community service through building fine guitars for local schools. Two successful guitar building projects were carried out in CDCR in the 1990s, both under the supervision of local luthier and busisnessman Kenny Hill of Hill Guitars. He is enthusiastic about assisting in developing a project that can train woodworkers who can serve in the vibrant local guitar building community. An appropriate beginning would involve locating appropriate woodworking tools, establishing a space and developing an appropriate program concept.
80 hours of administrative work @ $20/hr $1600.00
Supplies 500.00
Total $2100.00

Note: Overall administrative costs for the William James Association to carry out a project of this sort would be 20% of the total, and are not included above.