Arts and Cons

In the next couple of weeks we will begin looking at prison programming. There tends to be a lot of variety found within prisons here in the US (some prisons have little, if any, while others have been creative). This week’s ARTICLE focuses on one such program that brings art to convicted criminals. Pretty interesting article. Thoughts?

6 responses to “Arts and Cons”

  1. Courtney Behm says:

    I think this article gives a little relief after reading “Total Institutions” by Erving Goffman.

    In “Total Institutions,” it is stated, “In some cases, no work or little is required, and inmates, untrained often in leisurely ways of life, suffer extremes of boredom… In all such cases, the work-oriented individual may tend to become somewhat demoralized by the system.”

    With this in mind, to see that a prison system in the United States is taking turns for the betterment of the prisoner is a sight I thought I’d never see. Our prison systems in the United States are so focused on the punishment of offenders rather than correcting offender’s behavior, that providing alternatives for the needs of offenders is nearly impossible.

    As stated in “No License Plates Here: Using Art to Transcend Prison Walls,” “A lot of guys in prison don’t have a sense of self-worth…It helps you grow as a human being to say ‘Hey, I can do something.”

    I just think this is great, for lack of better words. Ironically, too, I am talented at drawing, but lost my way with the stresses of life. This article has helped remind me that art was a way of relieving stress for me, as these inmates have/will soon, too, learn. I should start back up!

  2. Karli Doerr says:

    I think that this program and bringing arts into prisons is a great way to help the inmates cope and come to realization with some of the things that they have done in the past. It also allows them to have something to look forward too and can even teach them valuable lessons. The article mentions how the classes shouldn’t be just for entertainment but for a way to get the inmates to focus their problems into art and discover things that may have caused them to commit crimes. I think this can greatly impact how the inmates grow over time and learn from their mistakes. Also with the presence of those murals around the prisons and can change the overall mood as the article states. They have an impact on peoples behaviors.

  3. Trish Sorenson says:

    I think adding an art program into our criminal justice brings out a new side to prisoners. Art can be extremely expressive for someone. Thus, having prisoners explore those feelings in a healthy way, could help the rehabilitation process. Although, I do not know that if spending $8 million dollars on this program is the best idea. I do believe this will be beneficial to help prisoners, but $8 million dollars is a lot of money. I think we need to rethink where we are allocating our money within corrections and see if $8 million dollars is really necessary or if we can cut that down.

  4. Alyssia Kleinhans says:

    Like the posts above I too agree that having an art program in prisons is great. Art is a way to get lost and escape in what you are creating, and maybe for little bit the inmates will think they are not in prison. For some, art is a stress reliever taking your mind off of what is happening which is a healthy way to help inmates not think about being stuck in prison. With that being said, it is not just for those creating the art. Having art on the walls and just around can make things more interesting than having blank brick walls and help it feel less like a prison. Overall, I think this is a great opportunity for inmates but like Trish said, $8 million is a lot of money to be spending on this program.

  5. Kaleigh Cleaveland says:

    For these inmates, they are within the confines of this building for long periods and as was noted, with dull interior. The addition of a program like this one, where prisoners can express themselves, is a positive to them and their creative expression. Having more opportunities to add something to their life that is enjoyable is a positive I believe to some of these people. While most people are quick to judge and look down upon these prisoners because of their being in prison, it is important to think about the possibility that they have changed since they committed their crime and were sent to prison. Whether this is the case or not, the opportunity for them to express themselves creatively is one that I believe should be available to them. I think that this prison is doing a good thing, and I thought the sculpture highlighted in a photo that one of the prisoners’ made in the article was great!

  6. Camille Deller says:

    This may not help society because it seemed like a lot of them were serving life sentences, but it defiantly helps the prisons run more efficiently and benefits the inmates by allowing them to express themselves. This could also be encouraging and uplifting for other inmates who may not be able to create the art, but is able to look at a beautiful morale instead of a pale gray wall.

    It wasn’t mentioned in the article but I wonder what the rules are for not painting graphic material. I thought of this because there was a case of a pedophile in prison who was making collages out of little boys from newspaper ads. Everyone knew he was making these collages for his sick pleasure, but it was ruled that the collages was a form of art and he was allowed to have them.

    Lastly, the paragraph about selling the art was interesting because I thought of John Wayne Gacy’s clown paintings. My Mom (a criminologist) actually tried to buy one from a family friend but my Dad wouldn’t let her hang it up in our house.

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