Update on Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation actions on Coronavirus 19: April 8, 2020 a statewide lockdown was put in place. Limited movement population for two weeks.

Important reminder to all WJA contractors. Funds for Arts in Corrections programs are provided by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). The contracts are managed through an interagency agreement between the California Arts Council (CAC) and CDCR. Approval to provide distance learning programs will be given by CDCR to the CAC which will then inform William James Association when to begin delivery.

No one should mail or provide packets until approval has been given by William James Association, even if your CRM indicates they are ready.

When can I start?
Each prison will be different. This will be based on infection in the population, workload of CRM and staffing. Many prison staff are working limited hours at the prison. Some CRM staff are being redirected to support other areas dealing directly with the pandemic.

Should I prep classes for Zoom?
The prison system does not have the capacity to provide online or Zoom classes.

What about providing video lessons for students?

CAC has received approval from CDCR’s Division of Rehabilitative Programming (DRP) to distribute instructional videos through the closed circuit prison TV system. At this point, we understand that these videos will be broadcast to ALL prisons through a centralized distribution system. We are investigating the possibility of targeting videos to individual prisons. All videos must undergo an approval process established by DRP. Our Program Director, Joey Reyes, is overseeing this process. If you have specific questions about this, you can reach him at joey@williamjamesassociation.org.

Should I deliver through the US mail?
Mail might be an option but no decision has been determined.
We are looking at delivery options that would include direct delivery to CRM via site coordinators using internal institutional mail systems, and the US Postal Service. Again this may vary with each institution.

What type of materials, packets will be allowed?
This will vary depending on the institution security level, and the ability of the CRM and other institution staff to handle learning packets. Materials should be based on what is allowed in the Cell as personal property.

Will funding continue in the future?
We realize that this is a very difficult time for the State of California, and that Arts in Corrections may face budget challenges. William James Association has no way to predict the future. As an organization we feel it is important to remain active in our mission to provide creative arts experiences for incarcerated populations. We are proceeding with the expectation that Arts in Corrections funding will continue in the next fiscal year.

Can we get updates on COVID 19 at the prisons where we work?
The state has a Coronavirus tracker that provides information by prison for the population and staff.

Where does AIC fit into the larger picture of COVID-19 and CDCR?

We can’t predict what will happen over the next few months. We do know that the threat of major infection reaching prisons is very real, and that this possibility will affect all decisions made over the remainder of this year. We hope to be able to deliver program to our students as soon as possible, but we must realize that the health of people experiencing incarceration is paramount.