November 4, 2015
Press Release


WASHINGTON -  Today, Congressman Ted Lieu (D | Los Angeles County), along with 19 other members of Congress, sent a letter to the Bureau of Prisons encouraging that they expand arts education and engagement in their prisons.  The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is currently supporting, in partnership with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, programs in six federal prisons. While a worthwhile effort, these comprise only four percent of the federal prisons nationwide.

“America’s criminal justice system is at a critical juncture, with more adults incarcerated than ever before in our Nation’s history.  Arts education in prisons has a history of proven success in reducing recidivism, improving inmate behavior, and saving taxpayers’ money.  I am proud of California for successfully re-implementing California’s Arts-in-Corrections program, with the support of groups such as The Actors’ Gang.  Arts-in-Corrections programs bring visual, performing, literary, media, and fine craft disciplines to correctional institutions.  It is time for our federal prisons emulate the success California has had in this area.”  Congressman Ted Lieu (CA-33)

"I applaud Congress for acknowledging the very real role that the arts play in addressing the chronic problems within our prisons. Studies suggest that arts programs in prisons can be a cost-effective way to provide a safe space for self-expression that transcends mistrust, decreases aggression, and increases self-control. Correctional facilities note the impact of an arts program through a significant reduction in the recidivism rate, with more social readiness to pursue academic and vocational opportunities."  Chairman Jane Chu, National Endowment for the Arts

“With gratitude to our Congressman Ted Lieu and the other cosignatories, we would like to add our support for this letter requesting an expansion of Arts programs across Federal facilities.  In the almost ten years we have had the opportunity to develop our work behind bars we have seen the transformational impact of our approach to rehabilitation on the inmates, their families, the staff and the culture of prison. The Arts have proven to lower recidivism and reduce inprison violence at a cost that has often been referred to as, “budget dust.” The cognitive effects of our work have proven to be longterm and deep.”  Tim Robbins, Academy Award Winner and Founding Artistic Director, The Actors’ Gang

The full text of the letter can be found here.