Pilot funding returns arts to California prisons

Oct 16, 2014 10:41 AM by News Staff

NORCO, Calif. (AP) - A pilot program is providing to bring state-funded arts behind bars in the California prison system for the first time in years.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation shifted $2.5 million to fund arts programs in more than a dozen prisons statewide for two years as part of a renewed emphasis on rehabilitation programs.

A 2011 law shifted responsibility for lower-level felons to county jails to reduce severe overcrowding in prisons.

As part of the overhaul, Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown has emphasized rehabilitation to reduce the re-offense rate for prisoners being released on parole.

A state prison study in the 1980s -- when California had arts programs in its prisons -- found a 27 percent reduction in re-offense rates for parolees who had participated in the arts behind bars.

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