Pelican Bay artists do time with creativity

Incarcerated art program participants beautify the SHU at Pelican Bay prison.
Incarcerated artists give the short corridor at PBSP an artistic makeover.

Reflecting its new mission, the Security Housing Unit (SHU) D-Yard short corridor at Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP) has had a creative makeover, thanks to incarcerated artists.

“Arts in Corrections provide inmates an opportunity to do their time with creativity,” said James Cross, serving a life sentence. “In March, inmates housed at PBSP Level II began the first session of the Prison Art Program. Inmates from different ethnicities, ages and term commitments ranging from life without parole to going home in days (were) working on artistic skills thanks to funds provided through the Arts in Corrections program.”

According to Cross, the area of the prison that once housed “the worst of the worst, … has a new face.”

“The cell doors are open from 5:30 am to 10:30 pm seven days a week,” he said. “Staff coordinated with the art program where inmates who have earned Level II security classification are (now) housed here.”

The incarcerated artists have a chance to show off their creativity as well as their ability to get along.

“This program is rewarding not only for inmates but staff alike,” Cross said. “These men exhibiting interpersonal relationship skills and human connection paint together while staff observe harmony among a diverse group of prisoners. Clearly detailing through their actions that rehabilitation is achievable puts a new face on the old SHU.”

By Lt. John Silva, Public Information Officer

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