Empowering Individuals, Transforming Systems

The DU Prison Arts Initiative (DU PAI) generates creative and collaborative learning experiences that enrich the lives of people who are incarcerated and shift the conversation about prison. As part of DU’s commitment to the public good, our programming opens dialogue between incarcerated people and their communities. We empower individuals to see themselves as leaders capable of creating meaningful change, both inside prison systems and well beyond.

Christmas Carol

Your support helps create learning experiences that enrich lives across Colorado.


"Arts involvement lets incarcerated students be part of something larger than themselves again. From that space comes the opportunity to create healing for self and community, which opens up possibility for transformation in people, spaces and systems."

Dr. Ashley Hamilton Executive Director of DU PAI
ashley hamilton

"This (DU PAI) workshop opened me up to realize how much I have changed through my incarceration. I’ve realized that I locked up the best parts of me years ago. I’ve been in a prison, while in prison. This class has helped release the best part of me and I hope to share that with the world."

DU PAI Incarcerated Student
incarcerated actors performing in the christmas carol

Our Programs

Theatre performances, podcast episodes, art workshops, leadership programs, newspaper issues — these are just some of the ongoing initiatives we offer across Colorado. Our programs deliver arts-based experiences that are educational, therapeutic and reflective. By facilitating dialogue and empowering individuals to tell their stories, we build communities that are changing the conversation about prison.

Prison arts workshop



  • Art-Based Courses

    We provide therapeutic arts programming that builds collaborative communities and empowers individuals’ creative voices. Our workshops include playwriting, ensemble theatre, dance and movement, improvisation and creative writing among others.

    Learn More

  • Chained Voices Fine Art Show

    Chained Voices began as a volunteer committee of Denver-based forensic social workers and juvenile defense attorneys, with a mission to educate, empower, advocate and connect through shared humanity and the powerful voice of art. Chained Voices has been collecting and sharing art from incarcerated artists in professional art shows for the public since 2016.

    Learn More

  • Group Leadership

    At every facility, individuals who are incarcerated serve as group leaders who help guide programming and facilitate group dynamics. Cultivating leadership skills fosters community responsibility while ensuring our programs remain co-creative.

    Learn More

  • Inside Wire: Colorado Prison Radio

    Inside Wire: Colorado Prison Radio beams music, stories, information, and entertainment into prisons across Colorado and broadcasts its sounds to listeners outside facilities as well, across the U.S. and beyond. Our programs are created by incarcerated media producers for incarcerated listeners. Inside Wire is the first statewide prison radio station in U.S. history.

    Learn More

  • LuxLit Press

    Through the publication of original materials created by people who are incarcerated, LuxLit Press seeks to spark new understandings for people inside and out.

    Learn More

  • Theatre Productions

    Performances are collaborative efforts between DU PAI and the Colorado Department of Corrections. Performance cast and crew consist of incarcerated people—this means all design and technical elements are imagined and created inside.

    Learn More

  • "With(in)" Podcast

    Each episode of "With(in)" shifts the conversation about prison through meaningful dialogues with incarcerated people across Colorado. "Reverberations from With(in)" is a digital newsletter of critical and creative writing on the themes covered in the podcast.

    Learn More