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Prison Art Program Gives Second Chance to Inmates

The Indigenous Arts In Prisons & Community program, also known as The Torch, has become an incredible boon for inmates in Victoria, Australia. It allows inmates to sell their artwork to the public, helping them manage the stress of their incarceration as well as assisting in their post-prison rehabilitation. The proceeds from the art sales are placed into a trust, which then reimburses the artists upon their release from prison. Last year alone, The Torch provided $280,000 for prisoners and ex-prisoners.

Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass founded The Torch in 2015 during her research into prisoner rehabilitation, when it was only a program that allowed inmates to express themselves through art. She saw the success of the program but was bothered by the fact that the prisoners weren't allowed to make money from their work, so she set out to change that.

According to Glass, The Torch is not only a great place to purchase art (she's got several pieces in her newest office space) and help inmates change their lives for the better, but it's also a great investment.

"When you think about what it costs society when somebody comes out of prison without support, commits crime, and goes back in again—[it's] over a billion dollars a year," Glass said. "If we can invest some portion of that into the sort of programs that prevent reoffending how much better off are we?"

Potential Preaching Angles: Hardship can often sensitize us toward God's beauty and wonder. God's blueprint for justice includes restoration. Godly correction is not condemnation, but an opportunity for repentance.

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