Inmates at Walker State Prison in Rock Spring are showing their true colors in an upcoming art exhibit, to be held at the Welcome Center in LaFayette Sunday, March 4 from 1:30-4 p.m.
Walker State Prison is a "faith and character" based prison, trying to reduce the rate of recidivism by installing accountability, responsibility, integrity and faith into the day-to-day lives of inmates, according to the website of the Georgia Center for Opportunity, an organization dedicated to removing barriers to quality education and work opportunities for all Georgians. For two years, the inmates are able to take classes that will help them assimilate to life outside the prison, and interact with other inmates in a way that is character building, the website stated. For example, the men are allotted lockers but leave them unlocked in order to build accountability and trust among one another.
Along with the classes the men can take, they can also participate in an arts and crafts program. Program participants make works of art out of recycled materials and donate the finished pieces to churches. According to David Boyle, outreach coordinator for LaFayette Presbyterian Church, the men like to paint scenes from the Bible and portraits of Jesus. They paint these depictions on bed sheets, while also making more structural pieces. LaFayette Presbyterian Church received a grandfather clock the inmates made out of paper that Boyle said is "just exceptional." The men also built a float for a Christmas parade.
"We need to share these with the community," Boyle said. "People don't realize there is a lot more to these prisoners."
Not only are the prisoners giving back to their community, they are also learning skills they can take with them when they rejoin that community. Using scraps of metal, men taking an advanced welding class at the prison were able to weld roses. This skill has allowed inmates to earn starting wages from $12-$17.50 per hour upon rejoining society, according to a Walker State Prison newsletter.
"It's an effort to get our local community to understand the men in the prison, and how they can make changes to become productive citizens," Boyle said.
The Welcome Center is at 309 N. Main St. in LaFayette.
Email Alex Farmer at firstname.lastname@example.org.