The arts have played a role in the rehabilitation of offenders. From painting to acting, inmates have turned around their lives, becoming productive citizens after release from prison. Even the violence of the 1970s didn’t stop the state from trying to achieve this goal. This is the fourth part in a series delving deeper into the department’s rehabilitative efforts.
The state’s transition from horse-drawn wagons to automobiles required roads through mountainous terrain. As an experiment, low-level inmates were sent to honor camps to help construct those highways. Later, the road camps were turned into firefighting camps with many still in use today. Early on, education for inmates was seen as a major stepping stone to leading a productive life post-release. Programs to help inmates earn diplomas, degrees and certificates were gradually added to the prison system. This is the third part in a series delving deeper in the department’s efforts to rehabilitate offenders.
In 1944, the reorganization of the state corrections department put the emphasis on rehabilitation. New institutions adopted the rehabilitation mission. This is the second part of a series taking a closer look at the evolution of rehabilitative methods in the department.
The state’s prison system has seen many changes since its inception in the early 1850s – especially in the realm of rehabilitation. Gone are the days of pounding rocks in a granite quarry. Today’s offenders can learn computer programming and web design to help them land decent-paying jobs when they’re released. They can also earn degrees and high school diplomas, increasing their chances of being hired. This is the first part in a series on the history of rehabilitation, taking a closer look at the department’s evolving efforts to rehabilitate offenders.
In 1951, a young man named Alfredo Santos was busted for dealing heroin, earning him a stint at San Quentin State Prison. Santos had always shown an affinity for art so when the prison held an art contest, he was selected to improve the dining hall. Thus, his long artistic career was born. In 1953, he started painting what would eventually become a well-known collection of 100-foot murals.
In 1976, a 43-year-old widowed mother of three was appointed warden of the California Institution for Women. Kathleen Anderson was already a 13-year veteran of the department when she took over the top job at CIW. In her role, she sought to broaden job training for female inmates so they had more opportunities after release. At the time, she was the top ranking female in the state corrections department.