Fine Arts Education & Training to Prison Inmates

Over the past 45 years, Mia Choumenkovitch has revealed art’s liberating and rehabilitative power in her work with residents of the Washington, D.C. Department of Corrections facilities, and was duly honored with the Mayor’s Art Award in 2007. Throughout the years, her students’ artwork exhibit the unique perspective of an artist living behind bars–looking to the outside world, not only from their physical confines but also from the interior of their soul.

Lorton Art Program, Inc. (LAP), founded in 1975, is a non-profit organization that provides education and training in the fine arts to thousands of residents of the Department of Corrections facilities in Lorton, Virginia, and at the District of Columbia Central Detention Facility and Corrections Treatment Facility. The program offers unique learning and rehabilitative activities to adult and youth offenders and has successfully demonstrated that exposure to and training in the arts can improve the learning skills and the self-esteem of justice-involved individuals. As a result, LAP has become an integral part of the Department of Corrections facilities, interfacing with education and psychology departments of the prison units.

During its more than 45 years of service, LAP has provided training to many different segments of the prison population, including Maximum Security, Medium and Central facilities prior to the closing of the Lorton prison complex in 2001. Since then, LAP has focused its efforts on the Women’s Mental Health Unit, Men’s Mental Health Unit, Men’s Step Down Unit, Men’s Reentry Unit, and the Young Men’s Emerging Unit at the D.C. facilities.

Lorton Art Program is privately operated by Mia Choumenkovitch and is dependent upon public and private contributions for its funding. To remain viable, the program continues to solicit and receive support in the form of public grants from foundations, private organizations, and individuals.