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Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences (AHSS)

Prison Arts Initiative

Prison Arts Initiative

University of Denver Prison Arts Initiative (DU PAI)

The University of Denver Prison Arts Initiative promotes access to high-quality therapeutic arts programs to incarcerated people in Colorado with the goal of empowering individuals to improve the quality of their lives and prepare to make positive changes in their communities upon release. DU PAI sees this work as part of DU's commitment to be "a great private university dedicated to the public good."

DU PAI Mission

DU PAI generates creative and collaborative learning experiences that enrich the lives of incarcerated people and shift the conversation about prison.

DU PAI Values


  • Provides therapeutic, educational creative arts programming to incarcerated people and their families in Colorado state prisons;
  • Facilitates dialogue and storytelling between incarcerated people and their communities via exhibits, performances, media, and commissioned works;
  • Creates caring communities for students characterized by learning, creative expression, and authentic human connection;
  • Delivers shared arts-based learning experiences to incarcerated people, correctional staff, and DU students
  • Engages leadership of incarcerated people in the development and delivery of programming.
  • Offers training and consulting on the use of the arts to liberate people and transform spaces in correctional settings;
  • Conducts rigorous research to examine the impact of the arts on personal and social narratives of crime, incarceration, harm, and healing.
  • DU PAI is central to DU's commitment to be "a great private university dedicated to the public good."
DU PAI Workshop participants practice a theatre exercise. DU PAI involves participants in the leadership group to give them a voice in the program and a chance to practice leadership skills.

Arts-Based Workshop Programs

Group Leadership Program

DU PAI Family Events provide fun, therapeutic art experiences for participants and their visiting family members. The Inside/Out college program will bring DU students to take classes with the prison participants.

Family Events Program

Inside/Out College Course Program

DU Prison Arts Podcast, With(in)

With(in) Podcast — Shifting the conversation on who is in prison