California Arts in Corrections

Strengthening rehabilitation through arts and culture 

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arts in corrections

Creative expression is freeing

Most incarcerated individuals do not carry life sentences and are eventually released back into society. Providing people opportunities to engage in the arts while incarcerated helps prepare them for release with changed attitudes, positive relationships, and new skills.

Administered by the California Arts Council in partnership with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, California's Arts in Corrections program is internationally recognized for its high-impact, innovative approach to addressing the state's critical public safety needs and rehabilitative priorities through the arts. 


Video: Alliance for California Traditional Arts, California Correctional Institution

“We’re talking about mental health impacts, about restorative and transformative processes. This provides a pathway towards healing, and this is what we have to do in these spaces. We have to facilitate healing in a very holistic way.” – Quetzal Flores, Arts Instructor

Video: Fresno Arts Council, Valley State Prison

"I believe in rehabilitation; it is crucial. Today's inmate may be tomorrow's neighbor." – Carmen Maroney, Community Resources Manager, Valley State Prison

Video: Marin Shakespeare Company, San Quentin State Prison

"Character development is important to acting and adulthood. So as I continue to develop as an actor, and as a person of integrity, accountability, and responsibility—traits I'll be defined by long after the show is over—it's through drama therapy and Shakespeare that I find healing."  Nythell "Nate" Collins, San Quentin State Prison Inmate

Video: Actors' Gang Prison Project, California Institution for Women

"It's really a public safety issue, what we're dealing with. Because wouldn't you want a person in prison to come out with better skills in dealing with disappointment, obstacles, unemployment, when they come out? It seems to me that it's in all of our interests to have vigorous rehabilitation programs—and arts is absolutely essential to that." – Tim Robbins, Artistic Director