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Florida State University expands prison art therapy program

Posted at 11:13 PM, Oct 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-20 11:32:56-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Florida State University has teamed up with the Florida Department of Corrections to provide an art program for young inmates with special needs.

The program has been a success, according to FSU, with the state and university recently negotiating a new three-year contract that doubles the size of the program.

Art therapy is an emotional outlet for inmates. It gives them a sense of empowerment and allows them to connect to something, according to the university.

Program coordinator for FSU/FDC Art Therapy in Prisons Program, Dave Gussak said the program has helped the inmates remain positive.

"We're hearing from a lot of the guys about how they're actually they're being seen, especially at a time when over isolation is the danger because of COVID they still feel connected with the art therapists with the team through the art that they're making," said Gussack. "It reinforces a new identity above that of just an objectified number, it really reminds them of their humanity."

Inmates 16 to 22 years old can participate in the program, with the funding coming from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and is expected to remain in prisons until 2024.