By Howard Gaines, CIM Community Resources Manager

It has been described as the best art facility in the 23-campus California State University system with 100,000 square-feet of art and design labs, studios, and classrooms and up-to-date equipment situated in a scenic San Bernardino County location 32 miles from Chino.

With the best art facilities come some of the best graduates of the CSU visual art program.

On April 5, several students from CSU San Bernardino along with university staff stepped inside prison walls for their first time to offer the skills they have learned over the past four years to the inmates housed at the California Institution for Men (CIM) Facility C.

The partnership between the university system and CIM began with a vision from Brenda Cash, acting Warden and has been in the works for the past several months. Warden Cash discussed with the Community Resources Manager her vision and goals for CIM Facility C.

Facility C is a Level III Sensitive Needs Yard that also houses the Youth Offender Program. The Youthful Offender Program (YOP) targets specific programs for the youth offenders who have transitioned form juvenile facilities to Adult facilities.

Warden Cash goal is to expand and increase programming in all facilities to include Cognitive Behavioral (Anger Management, Domestic Violence, Alternatives to Violence, Parenting and Victim Awareness programs.

Cal State University San Bernardino is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. Only 280 public and private universities and colleges meet the high professional standards for this accreditation. Far from the 100,000 square feet state of the art facility, the students along with inmates divided into four groups inside the facility C gymnasium, once utilized to house inmates. The day kicked off with a brief orientation, an introduction and straight to work.

CIM art

CIM inmates get a lesson in art and design.

The first class netted 27 students. As of May 10, 2013 42 participants are enrolled in the courses in which 18 are youthful offenders. The courses offered to participating inmates include, Drawing, Design, Painting and Portfolio. Each course is 10 weeks and inmates completing the course will receive a certificate from the California State University Visual Arts Program.

Annie Buckley, Assistant Professor of Art, B.A University of California, Berkeley M.F.A. Otis College of Art and Design oversees the Cal-State University students and worked directly with Howard Gaines, Community Resources Manager to insure the students received the required volunteer training and orientation.

The first day was like kindergarten for the Cal-State Students they did not know what to expect, however once they passed through the security checks and all materials and supplies inventoried, the inmates arrived the atmosphere turned into an artist paradise.

The internship opportunity for the students and the rehabilitative component for the students is positive partnership for both California State University San Bernardino and the California Institution for Men. The groups will be working on projects such as Inmate Leisure Time Activity Group (ILTAG) posters to be distributed to all facilities. The posters created will identify available ILTAG programs for the Population.

“I very much enjoy teaching the inmates of California Institution for Men, becoming an educator and bringing my knowledge of art to the inmates makes me feel happy,” said Marina. Moreno , Design Student CSUSB. “It doesn’t matter if you are young, old or in prison you can always learn something new, and art is one way of expressing who you are as a person.”