Sarah Frazer, Global Development Program Director and office Brazilophile, shared this story with me over the T-giving break and it really made me think back to a conversation I had about the prison system here in the U.S. The article talks about the utilization of music, film screenings, and libraries to begin rehabilitating prisoners so that they may be re-integrated into society.

My grad school friend made me realize that our prison system is just like a holding pen for prisoners and nothing more. Conditions are absolutely abhorrent, crime and violence continue to reign, and most importantly the caretakers of these criminals rarely demonstrate any sense of compassion towards them.

I would imagine that our prison system is more like a holding system, in that prisons do not strive to rehabilitate prisoners, but merely house them until either they are released or they are dead (inmate inflicted or death penalty style). This trajectory will only lead to more and more prisons to house the large number of criminals our penal system brings in. I personally would like to see more schools than prisons, but you know, that’s just me.

The article was great because it continues to validate my thinking on art (and beauty for that matter) in general; art has the power to change the individual’s world for the better. Since I have personally witnessed the power of art, I feel very humbled to be doing a job in which I get to utilize art’s healing power for the better.

I would love to see more and more of these programs incorporated into the U.S. prison systems, not only because it has the potential to re-awaken the fire that lies within a prisoner, but it also continues to prove that art is an underutilized tool in our society today.