Prison Project - The Actors' Gang
Of the original 25 men that joined TAGPP during the first year at Avenal State Prison, 18 had Life sentences. 17 of the 18 have gone before the Board of Prison Terms and have been found suitable for release and are freed. 22 of the original 25 are now home.
The Actors’ Gang Prison Project is an internationally recognized rehabilitation program currently running in 14 California state prisons, 2 Reentry facilities, and Los Angeles County Probation camps and halls for juveniles. Our program starts as a 7-day, 4-hour-a-day intensive theatrical arts program which transitions into an ongoing weekly peer-led class, managed by the program director and overseen by TAG Alumni Teaching Artists. Using a highly physical and emotional style of theater as a tool, the program creates a supportive space in which the participants can express their fears, choose empathy over anger, overcome gang barriers, and most importantly, prepare for life beyond bars.
A recent study shows 77% Employment Rate for The Actors’ Gang Reentry Program participants.
After working inside California state prison for almost a decade, we recognized the need for the reach-in rehabilitation process to continue beyond one’s sentence end date and began a weekly reentry program, The Actors’ Gang Reentry Project (TAGRP) for men at Walden House/Health Right 360 in Los Angeles. This partnership provides a welcoming space for new participants and has given qualified TAG Prison Project participants at the end of their sentence a residence where they have the opportunity to continue programming as they transition from prison to their community. In 2020, TAGRP expanded by partnering with the Anti-Recidivism Coalition to serve men and women returning home.
2020 - California spends $18,788 per year per student on public education. Los Angeles County Probation spends $770,000 per year to incarcerate one youth, triple the amount it cost to get a bachelor’s degree at USC.
The Actors’ Gang Youth Project works to provide direct theater arts programming for youth in the Los Angeles County juvenile justice system. We see the difference our programs make in the lives of young people and have joined the Arts for Healing and Justice Network (AHJN) to further our reach by empowering young people, creating pathways for success, and catalyzing systemic change. In partnership with AHJN, we seek to integrate arts as an effective sentencing alternative, a critical intervention to address trauma for youth who are experiencing incarceration, and a strategy for successful reentry.
Alumni Advocacy Project
When our participants began to return home, we launched The Actors’ Gang Alumni Advocacy Project in 2018. This network serves as a support system and platform for individuals who want to continue training with the company and become Teaching Artists. We envision the formerly justice-involved participants as the leaders of TAG Prison Project, and focus on providing an avenue for upward mobility with meaningful employment as Alumni Teaching Artists. We currently have 56 formerly incarcerated participants in the Alumni Advocacy Project, and 19 of them are working with us as Teaching Artists.
All of our former participants are encouraged to advocate, not only on behalf of The Prison Project, but also for Arts in Corrections, Rehabilitation, and reform in our Justice system.