Hays State Prison inmate Lewis Gravitt often makes art for 10 to 14 hours a day, sometimes seven days a week.
With a group of inmates he makes 100-pound horses, greeting cards, sewing machines — pretty much anything asked of them — and all of it is made out of paper.
“It’s my sanity,” Gravitt said.
When he’s done, his projects are sent to nonprofit organizations and family members.
Hays is one of 12 prisons in Georgia with a Faith and Character-Based dormitory for inmates who want to change, according to officials, and art is a component of the program. Each dorm has about 50 inmates.
“You hear faith-based, but the faith part is to say they have hope, they have faith in something,” said LeThicia Davis, program counselor at Hays.
The program connects the offenders to the community, Davis said during an interview earlier this year at Hays.
“They want to let the community know that they’ve made bad choices, but they are about change and do want to give back,” she said.
The program is open to all offenders, regardless of their faith or lack of it, according to the Georgia Department of Corrections website.
The goal, Davis said, is to provide the tools necessary for them to be productive citizens once they get out.
During their participation in the program, inmates learn skills such as how to operate a computer, write a resume and obtain their high school general educational development certificate, she said.
They also have speakers, religious and nonreligious, to help them work on coping skills, to heal broken relationships and with career development, she said.
“We believe in taking care of each other,” said Davis. “Even in a level five institution, you can sleep at night.”
As such, Hays State Prison houses offenders who are escape risks, have assaultive histories and may have detainers for other serious crimes on file.
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