Slowly, but surely, it feels like change is coming when it comes to prison education. Indeed, it can feel like an uphill battle many days, but that’s why it’s so important to enjoy stories like these.
Ten years ago, prison reform wasn’t even on most legislators’ radars, let alone the public’s. Fast forward to today, and we even have a bipartisan agreement on the need for reform and the importance of prison education in reducing recidivism. Increased dialogue on these issues is also having a trickle-down effect on individuals who, in the past, would never have even given a second thought to how they could help contribute to changing the lives of prisoners.
A couple of weeks ago, we came across information on a performance of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream out of Australia. What made this staging notable, however, is that prisoners performed it at Acacia Prison. Nichola Renton, an award-winning actor and director developed a theatre program to complement the institution’s existing education program. She recognized the potential of such training to improve literacy and generally bolster one’s sense of self-worth. Just as with art therapy, it provides participants with an important creative outlet for expression they do not have otherwise.
In that same vein, Lucy Wallace of Boulder Academy of Movement studio brought dance classes to Denver Women’s Correctional Facility inmates. Recognizing the opportunities dance has brought to her life and how it has helped shape her as an individual, she created Dance 2B Free, a way for women to escape through movement one day a week. And beyond that, she has created a teacher training program for those women who want to be able to run classes for fellow inmates.
For everyone who doubts the importance of fine arts to a well-rounded education, I beg you to take a moment to read the stories of the women on her website to hear what the Shakespearian prison actors gained from their experiences.
Every step in this process comes from a single individual. So I want to take a moment to thank all those Lucy Wallaces and Nicola Rentons out there for taking a step that translates leaps and bounds for every incarcerated individual whose life they touch.
Published Dec 10, 2015 by Christopher Zoukis, JD, MBA | Last Updated by Christopher Zoukis, JD, MBA on Mar 26, 2023 at 2:51 pm