The Actors Gang via Crowdrise
March 25, 2014
BENEFITING: The Actors Gang
The Actors' Gang Prison Project started in 2006 in response to Caifornia's huge recidivism rate and excessive overcrowding.
In the last thirty years California has built two Universities, and an astonishing twenty-two Prisons. California leads the nation in recidivism within the first three years of inmate release, yet six years ago the State cut all funding to all Arts in Corrections programs in spite of evidence of the huge impact Arts in Corrections can have.
A pair of university studies found that participants in California Arts in Corrections programs had 75% fewer disciplinary actions and a 51% lower recidivism rate than the general prison population*.
Underneath these quantifiable positive results is the personal impact our program has upon the individual participants:
"Now I know how to convert poison into medicine.”
“Before this class I had huge anger problems. Now I smile too much and my cheeks hurt! This class opened the door for me.”
“Barriers are being broken, we are all talking, there is a spirit of peace on the yard.”
Corrections Officer Frank Vela - "I see changes in the guys' attitudes. They are more outgoing. They now go up and talk to people. They intermingle more. It really makes a big change in the guys."
In the last seven years inmates who have been a part of our programs have gone on to have successful lives and almost zero recidivism.
In our nine years of work, we have seen transformative change. We've seen the emotional truth in our workshops dissolve years of inbred hatred. We've seen men transform from cynics to dreamers, embrace compassion as a fundamental part of their personality. They've gone from men with no hope to leaders who mentor others. This is what's possible if we accept that Arts programs are not leisure time, they're programs that create fundamental change and can create profound shifts in inmate’s consciousness. And until we find a way to change our laws, give a broader education to our kids and raise up the neglected and struggling communities around us, we will continue to need a wide-ranging, creative approach to rehabilitation and reentry for those who will be rejoining us. And in order to take into account that humans are not just a brain, but also emotions, we continue to require a way to harness and mend that part of the life of the incarcerated. We know that our work can do that and we ask that you join us in supporting this work by donating and advocating so that it can continue at this crucial time.
* California Department of Corrections, Arts in Corrections Research Synopsis on Parole Outcomes for Participants Paroled December 1980 to February 1987.