Helping Inmates Heal Through Art
Date:  07-19-2012

Montgomery County, MD Department of Correction and Rehabilitation art program gives inmates a sense of accomplishment, and hope
Art is our one true global language. It knows no nation, it favors no race, and it acknowledges no class. It speaks to our need to reveal, heal, and transform. It transcends our ordinary lives and lets us imagine what is possible.” So said Richard Kamler, and apparently the Montgomery County Department of Correction and Rehabilitation (MCDCR) agrees.

Bringing an art program into a prison setting is not a new idea. For decades correctional officials have recognized the benefit of art therapy in reducing depression in inmates. Even if a prison art program is not “formal therapy” the benefits are still there. Art helps prisoners with “sensory experiences, symbolic expression, emotional expression, life enhancement, cognitive development and social connectedness.” ( Van Lith T, Fenner P, Schofield M. 2012. Art Therapy in Rehabilitation. In: JH Stone, M Blouin, editors. International Encyclopedia of Rehabilitation.)

The MCDCR program is run by Class Acts Art, a non-profit organization that brings art projects, performances and other culturally diverse activities into communities, including correctional facilities, located in Maryland, Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia. click here to go to website

The art program falls under MCDCR’s rehabilitative programming, and according to a recent article on Gazzette.Net, the programs “include ceramics, painting, drumming, poetry, and dance classes.” The article also reports that women at the MCDRC located in Boyds can participate in yoga classes. Perhaps in the future yoga classes, with provide benefits for the mind, body and spirit, will be offered in facilities housing men as well. In the meantime, inmates in MCDCR facilities are able to participate in creative and productive classes that inspire and motivate.

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