My Heart Is Broken That Prisoners No Longer Get Drama Class

I say, more workin’ and less learnin’ for prisoners!

I had no idea that taxpayers were on the hook for funding art classes for California prisoners.

The New York Times reports:

Two years ago, arts in corrections programs were a mainstay of prisons across the country, embraced by administrators as a way to channel aggression, break down racial barriers, teach social skills and prepare inmates for the outside world. There was an arts coordinator in each of the 33 California state prisons, overseeing a rich variety of theater, painting and dance.

But these programs have become a fading memory, casualties of the budget crises that have overwhelmed state and local governments nationwide. Nowhere is that truer than here, where prisons are so overcrowded that the Supreme Court in May ordered the state to start releasing inmates.

“The artist facilitator — that position was eliminated,” said Violette Peters, who filled the role for four years at this medium-security prison in the desert, which, with 4,410 inmates, is at double its capacity. “So now I’m a corrections case analyst. I work in the records department, which has nothing to do with the arts programs.”

Only two prison arts programs are left in California, and both rely on volunteers and private contributions.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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