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Breaking Into Prison: Art Education in Action

This paper will be of interest to those who are beginning to investigate the benefits of institutional art programming. "This capstone study examines information about the use of art education in Florida prisons. The project’s objectives raise important questions about the role and status of art education in Florida prisons. Additionally, incorporated in the findings is a discussion concerning the need for establishing long-term, publicly funded art education in today’s corrections environment ... Conclusions drawn from the research suggest that art programs for incarcerated individuals can help them develop better mental outlooks. Expressive therapy and art education reduces violence within the prison system as well as decreases parolees’ recidivism. This project is a call for art educators to break into prison, taking their creative inspiration and expressive therapy strategies to incarcerated men and women. Without such efforts, few art programs will ever be offered in state prisons" (p. 8-9). Sections of this paper include: purpose of the study; prison education overview; art education in prisons; cost benefits; art educators working with prisoners; personal experience; what makes for a strong prison art education program; hindrances to establishing ongoing programming; lingering questions; and summary. A list of websites about current art programs and prison art and education is also included.