WAMU 88.5 : News

In Coastal Delaware, Prisoners Use Art To Break Cycle Of Crime

Play associated audio
As part of a small program, prisoners at one prison in coastal Delaware get once-a-week therapeutic art classes.
WAMU/Bryan Russo
As part of a small program, prisoners at one prison in coastal Delaware get once-a-week therapeutic art classes.

A 2013 study in Delaware found that 80 percent of the inmates in the state's prison system end up back in jail within three years of their release. But now a small art program in one of the prisons near the coast is trying to change that.

Chase Fehrenbach was in his early 20's when a rampant heroin addiction pushed him to commit armed robberies. He's now six years into a 21-year sentence at the Sussex Correctional Institution in Georgetown.

But each Friday, Chase and 20 other inmates here enjoy the best part of their week — the two-hour therapeutic art class.

"It's been my saving grace. It's been an escape for me pretty much every day, cause every day is a complete struggle," he says.

The program is independently funded, so all the paints, brushes and other supplies that are available to these prison artists come from the prisoners' two-dollar-a-month dues or money raised at an exhibition at a nearby art gallery where their work has been on display for the past few weeks.

Fehrenbach's art career has kind of taken off since he's been here, and he hopes art this class will help him break the cycle many inmates in Delaware fall into: They get out, and they end up coming right back in.

Randolph Graham is serving a life sentence for murder, and says that he believes that when the public sees their art, they don't care that it was created by convicted criminals.

"It puts more of a face on us as inmates, more than just a guy that's a throwaway or no good or anything like that. There's a whole other side to us," he says.


Not My Job: We Quiz Lena Headey On Games Worse Than 'Game Of Thrones'

Game of Thrones may have killed off many major characters, but the manipulative, scheming Queen Cersei is still standing. We've invited Headey to play a game called "You win and you die."

After Introducing Changes, Keurig Sales Continue To Fall

Despite America's high coffee consumption, Keurig reported disappointing sales this week. Even during its popular holiday selling period, the numbers haven't perked up in recent years.

Do Political TV Ads Still Work?

TV ads are a tried-and-true way for politicians to get their message out. But in this chaotic presidential primary, are they still effective?

Twitter Says It Has Shut Down 125,000 Terrorism-Related Accounts

The announcement comes just weeks after a woman sued Twitter, saying the platform knowingly let ISIS use the network "to spread propaganda, raise money and attract recruits."

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.