Creativity Saves Prisoner Lives: National Conference Champions Arts Programs in Prisons

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California Lawyers for the Arts and the William James Association will team with the University of San Francisco (USF) to host a conference on arts programs in prisons, June 16-19. “Arts in Corrections: Opportunities for Justice and Rehabilitation” will make the case that arts education promotes rehabilitation and reduces recidivism.

“We look forward to exploring innovative approaches to integrating the arts into corrections so that we can reduce the burden of incarceration that our communities have endured,” said Alma Robinson, Executive Director of California Lawyers for the Arts.

California Lawyers for the Arts and the William James Association will team with the University of San Francisco (USF) to host a conference on arts programs in prisons. “Arts in Corrections: Opportunities for Justice and Rehabilitation” will make the case that arts education promotes rehabilitation and reduces recidivism.

The four-day conference will take place at the University of San Francisco and San Quentin State Prison, June 16 through June 19, 2015.

“We look forward to exploring the most innovative approaches to integrating the arts into corrections so that we can reduce the huge burden of incarceration that our state and our communities have endured for too long,” said Alma Robinson, Executive Director of California Lawyers for the Arts.

The conference will assess best practices and explore the latest research models. Sessions include:
--Arts-in-corrections artists training (June 16)
--Prison artists and community organizations (June 17)
--Re-entry and transition programs (June 18)
--Showcasing the arts in San Quentin (June 19)

Keynote speakers are:
--Wayne Kramer, former inmate and founder/director of Jail Guitar Doors, a program that organizes prison outreach programs nationwide, “Changing Lives One Guitar at a Time” (June 17)

--Sen. Loni Hancock, state Senate Public Safety Committee Chair, “Updates on Trends in Corrections and Rehabilitation – How the Arts Can Make a Difference” (June 19)

This is the first conference on arts and corrections in California. The focus on arts programs and their salutary effect in prisons is intensifying as California enters the third year of major prison overhaul. As the state strives to reduce its inmate population, the budget for prison rehabilitation programs jumped by more than $20 million in 2014. Arts funding was restored in 2014 after a 10-year hiatus and is in place until 2016.

“It is a good time to look at how the arts can make a meaningful contribution to reducing recidivism,” said Laurie Brooks, Executive Director of the William James Association. “We are in tremendous need of imaginative solutions for a correctional system that is way out of balance.”

For more information on the conference, please visit http://bit.ly/1dJteOI.

California Lawyers for the Arts, http://www.calawyersforthearts.org, is a nonprofit that provides lawyer referrals, dispute resolution services, educational programs and a resource library to the creative arts community. The William James Association, http://williamjamesassociation.org/, is a nonprofit that oversees Prison Arts Project contracts with professional artists to provide in-depth, long-term arts experiences for prison inmates.

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Anne-Marie Devine Tasto

Anne-Marie Devine Tasto
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