Besides the once-in-a-lifetime language programs in the RC, our wonderful community is also home to many other unique programs that foster creativity while providing unmatched opportunities for community-building and social justice work. With only my few semesters in the Residential College, I have found a home and a purpose in the Prison Creative Arts Project (PCAP) which has not only allowed me to learn about the intricacies of the Michigan prison system, but has helped me find my passion in prison reform as well as allowing me to continue my love for theatre.

PCAP is a program unlike anything I have ever experienced and it has a plethora of different ways to get involved. There are classes offered (Theatre and Incarceration and The Atonement Project) taught by the talented Ashley Lucas (and Cozine Welch) offered every semester in which anyone in the community (students, previously incarcerated people, etc.) can come to class twice a week to learn about the pandemic of global incarceration and how we can use the arts to bring joy and hope to a place that thrives on despair and darkness. 

Through the Theatre and Incarceration class, I have had the incredible opportunity to facilitate a workshop with my facilitation group and the men at Milan Correctional Facility. In a non-COVID time, this would involve going weekly into Milan and engaging in meaningful theatrical activities with members of the PCAP community: both those in prison and those out, in order to create an environment of happiness, vulnerability, and possibility. Anyone can help facilitate a theatre workshop as well as a visual arts or creative writing one with people all over Michigan (not to mention the chance to visit prisons in Brazil!).


I know you’re thinking: “Wow! This seems too good to be true. A chance to use my love for the arts to bring joy to others while learning about the prison system and how I can improve it for the people inside? It can’t get any better than this!” I am excited to tell you that you’re wrong!

PCAP facilitates an annual art exhibition which showcases and sells beautiful pieces of artwork created by people inside Michigan prisons for low prices. The best part? The proceeds go to the artist and help some of the financial burden of being in prison. But, how could we forget about the Literary Journal full of writing from incarcerated individuals and the editing team led by Philip Christman that is open to all? 

You can probably tell that I could go on and on about what PCAP means to me and those involved but I will just say this: the chance to learn about the criminal justice system and its differences for individuals based on race, gender orientation, and sexuality through first hand testimony of previously incarcerated individuals while having the chance to use the arts as a way of healing is a concrete example of the life-changing programs that are housed within the Residential College.


About the author

Laila Krugman is a first-year student in the RC who is in the Intensive Spanish Program. She is yet to pick a major but hopes to pursue a career in prison reform with a minor in drama. In her first year at the University, she has found herself involved with PCAP as well as being an RC Ambassador. She hopes to get involved with a theatre group on campus at some point and is excited to continue to find unique ways to interact with the school through her enrollment in the RC.