Inmates at the Richard J. Donovan State Prison have been enjoying the Paint It Program, volunteer-based art and writing classes offered weekly.
"It keeps us out of trouble," said Michael Wilson, an inmate. "It is something positive and constructive to do with our time.”
Inmates are invited to use paintbrushes, colored pencils and other materials to create drawings, paintings, and sketches. They also work on an illustrated children's book.
"We benefit as a society from people who are incarcerated being in arts programs because they're way less likely to return to prison and that leads to safer neighborhoods," said Laura Pacenco, Ph.D., the founding director of the program and Assistant Professor of Sociology at San Diego Miramar College.
Pacenco added any prisoner who commits a violent act in prison will not be able to return to the class, which motivates inmates to stay on the right track.
Jose Cuen is being released in three weeks. He has been serving 17 years for an armed robbery and wrote a poem to his wife while in the class Thursday night.
"I'm not a very patient person, so it has taught me to relax, calm down and take my time," said Cuen.
For more information about the program, click here.