The LA County Arts Commission began participating in the Camp Kilpatrick Replacement Project in spring 2014, when the construction of a 65,000-foot facility that will accommodate 120 juvenile offenders triggered a Civic Art allocation. Working alongside LA County’s Probation Department, Department of Mental Health, Department of Public Works and LA County Office of Education, the LA County Arts Commission began partnering with the Arts for Incarcerated Youth Network (AIYN) to bring arts education to youth involved in the juvenile justice system.
The Arts for Incarcerated Youth Network is an interdisciplinary cooperative that provides arts instruction to build resiliency and wellness, eliminate recidivism and transform the juvenile justice system. The resulting programs are providing services to youth incarcerated in the County’s 17 juvenile detention facilities. This collaboration aims to connect in-school academic learning with out-of-school experiences that allow young people to gain insights and skills in the arts, discover avenues for self-expression, build self-sufficiency and collaboration skills, and recognize pathways to viable careers in the arts.
Over the past two years, this cross-agency team developed a plan for embedding the arts into the County’s juvenile justice reform efforts as part of the new LA Model for addressing the needs of incarcerated youth, emphasizing education and support services that will lead to rehabilitation.
Models for implementing system-wide arts education are being field tested in facilities across the County prior to the spring 2017 opening of Campus Kilpatrick. In partnership with AIYN, teaching artists engaged 300 youth across 12 detention centers in creative writing, drumming, theatre, spoken word and visual art instruction. Following the highly successful Freedom Schools Arts Project in July 2015, the Arts Commission, Probation and AIYN collaborated to field test a second implementation model. The Spring 2016 Arts Project launched in March and ran for eleven weeks in ten sites. A truly exciting component was a focus on guiding youth to reimagine, redesign and reclaim Specialized Handling Units (SHU) through the arts in anticipation of eliminating the use of solitary confinement for juveniles in Los Angeles County. Students worked with resident artists to create interior and exterior murals for the Hope Centers that are now permanent installations in four of the camps.
In 2016, this work expanded to provide arts instruction to youth in the Probation Department’s six Juvenile Day Reporting Centers.