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Effort emerging to bring arts back to California prisons

Prison Arts - 12

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Inmate Rudy Sigala paints pandas for his three children. The class is Sigala's first time painting, but he has drawn before.

Prison Arts - 8

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Inmate Ollie Broussard, 38, paints a color wheel, one of the class assignments. The color wheel helps students understand color blending and complimentary colors. Broussard said the class has taught him to have patience. Broussard has served time at multiple facilities.

Prison Arts - 7

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Norco inmate Larry Ainsworth paints singer Erikah Badu from a drawing he did in 1999. Ainsworth has kept the drawing since then. Badu reminds him of his wife. "But she can't sing like her," he jokes. Ainsworth has been in prison for 15 years and has four months to go.

Prison Arts - 1

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

State prison inmates Earl Stewart, left, Ricardo Castillo and Jesus Ledesma take part in a painting class on Tuesday, Nov. 19 at Norco's California Rehabilitation Center.

Art and Prisons. It may seem strange, but the two have a long history together in California. Back in the 1940s, prisoners at San Quentin participated in everything from radio to music to drawing programs.

RELATED: See more photos on KPCC's AudioVision blog.

More recently, California had a program known as Arts in Corrections. It was operating across the state until it was cut just a few years ago. KPCC's education reporter Mary Plummer caught up with one of the last remaining prison arts teachers in the state. She brings you this audio postcard.

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