Dear friends and supporters of Prison Arts,

An urgent situation has developed from the current state budget crisis with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s response being to layoff staff in education, vocational, substance abuse, and other inmates programs – including the one Artist Facilitator at each prison.

We need your help – the Artist Facilitator position is critical to continuing arts programming with any consistency and quality and we want to raise our voices to powers-that-be.

Would you be willing to write a letter against cutting the Institutional Artist Facilitator position and thus the elimination of Arts in Corrections?

Send your letters to:

Laurie Brooks (we want to collect all the letters), Executive Director, William James Association, P.O. Box 1632, Santa Cruz, CA, 95061,

Nettie Sabelhaus, Senate Rules and Appointments, State Capitol, Room 420, Sacramento 95614,

Elizabeth Siggins, Chief Deputy Secretary Adult Programs, CA Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation, 1515 S Street, Suite 501S, Sacramento, CA, 95811,

Scott Kernan, Undersecretary, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, P.O. Box 942883, Sacramento, CA, A 94283-0001

Matthew Cate, Secretary, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, P.O. Box 942883, Sacramento, CA, A 94283-0001

Write to your Senators and Assemblypersons – find them with you zip code at

Please send me copies of what you send and let me know if I can help you in this effort!
Thank you so much for your support,

Laurie Brooks
Director, William James Association

Here’s a great example letter from Judith:

Dear Ms. Sabelhaus:

Given California’s various crises, I realize that every state agency must make massive cuts. I urge you to bring to the legislature’s attention that the CDCR should not cut Arts in Corrections. The program has minuscule cost and vast positive impact.

Arts in Corrections provides a large number of prisoners with programming that teaches transferrable skills, reduces tension, and encourages deep self-reflection and responsibility – all for the cost of the salary of only one low-range state employee. The professional artists who teach through Arts in Corrections either volunteer or are paid through grants given by individuals and non-profits.

I taught through Arts in Corrections in the 1980s when the program was much more fully funded. My Disguised as a Poem: My Years Teaching Poetry at San Quentin is a memoir about this experience (copy enclosed). For the past decade I have spoken nationally about prison and prison arts and so I am able to see – in state after state – the respect with which California’s Arts in Corrections is held.

To lose Arts in Corrections – a program that costs the state virtually nothing – would be to lose a program that positively impacts large numbers of prisoners and one that is a revered model in the field.

Thanks for your consideration.


Judith Tannenbaum,