City Limits

NY Prison Arts and Reentry Programs Persist Throughout Pandemic - City Limits

By Griffin Kelly

August 2, 2021

The first time Helen Taylor read a poem at a writer’s workshop, many of her classmates began to tear up. Taylor is an artist and a formerly incarcerated person, having served 18 months on Rikers Island. For many years, she doubted her creative abilities. But through art programs offered by groups like The Fortune Society, a city-based nonprofit that runs reentry and alternative criminal justice services, Taylor said she’s been able to express herself in ways that originally scared her. “It gives us a positive way to approach life after looking at it and dealing with it for so long in an ugly manner,” she said. “I get the opportunity to get rid of some garbage that I needed to get rid of through acting, through putting it on paper or doing a simple drawing. Things that I wasn’t able to talk about, I can through arts.”

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