Normally, jail isn’t a very nice place to be, but there’s a program in Washington County at the old county jail that’s helping to brighten up the place and the lives of the ladies inside.
At the Northwest Arkansas Community Correction Center in Fayetteville, ladies who are non-violent offenders spend up to two years paying their debt to society.
It could be a dark and dingy place to be, but a special program allows certain inmates to paint murals on the prison walls as a form of therapy.
It helps them create something beautiful, and gives them confidence in their efforts to rehabilitate.
Maggie Capel, the center supervisor, says, “The women, the residents have done the murals. The vision, one area of the murals depicts Downtown Fayetteville in the 1950’s. In another hallways the theme is outdoor scenes from Northwest Arkansas.”
There isn’t much light in the hallways, but these residents help brighten the place up.
It also helps brighten the mood of the residents who take part in the painting program.
Samantha Coggins can’t wait to show her new found skills to her family.
“I have a small child and I’m learning things that I can do with her when I get home. It’s exciting to know that there is artistic ability that I didn’t even know I had.”
For those who need help, the center offers volunteer help from the NWA Art Community.
The residents are happy to have the help, and the volunteers also find their own special kind of inspiration.
Nadine Ripplemeyer owns The Art Location in Fayetteville.
“I always come back feeling better than when I came. To know that my knowledge and the art I’ve done can help people is great. Art is something you can do for the rest of your life.”
Cherry Keaton, a volunteer, says, “I really feel a little selfish about it because I walk away feeling so blessed from visiting with these women who inspire me to paint more. It also is good to see them grow as artists. It’s been amazing.”
Painting the murals doesn’t help the residents get out faster, but there’s no doubt it gives them a chance to gain self confidence in their ability to make a positive contribution.
The residents take part in a last chance rehabilitation program.
If they complete the requirements, they are released without having to go to state prison.
It’s not the paint or the brush, but the commitment of the residents to try and become a productive member of society.