Shakespeare Behind Bars


The Mission of Shakespeare Behind Bars is to offer theatrical encounters with personal and social issues to incarcerated and post-incarcerated adults and juveniles, allowing them to develop life skills that will ensure their successful reintegration into society.


Shakespeare Behind Bars was founded on the belief that all human beings are born inherently good. Although some convicted criminals have committed heinous crimes against other human beings, the inherent goodness still lives deep within them and can be called forth by immersing participants in the safety of a circle-of-trust and the creative process.

Within the circle-of-trust, Shakespeare Behind Bars seeks to transform inmate offenders from who they were when they committed their crimes, to who they are in the present moment, to who they wish to become.

Shakespeare Behind Bars offers participants the ability to hope and the courage to act despite their fear and the odds against them.

Participation in the Shakespeare Behind Bars program can effectively change our world for the better by influencing one person at a time, awakening him or her to the power and the passion of the goodness that lives within all of us.

Values/Creed Statement

The Shakespeare Behind Bars program allows each participant the opportunity to:

1.  develop a lifelong passion for learning, especially those participants who are at high risk of not completing or continuing their education;

2.  develop literacy skills (reading, writing, and oral communication), including those participants who are classified as learning disabled and/or developmentally challenged;
3.  develop decision making, problem solving, and creative thinking skills;

4.  develop empathy, compassion, and trust;

5.  nurture a desire to help others;

6.  increase self esteem and develop a positive self image;

7.  take responsibility for the crime/s committed;

8.  become a responsible member of a group, community, and family;

9.  learn tolerance and peaceful resolution of conflict;

10.  relate the universal human themes contained in Shakespeare’s works to themselves including their past experiences and choices, their present situation, and their future possibility;

11.  relate the universal themes of Shakespeare to the lives of other human beings and to society at-large;

12.  return to society as a contributing member.

Recidivism Rates
National average = 67.5%
Kentucky = 29.5%     Michigan = 33%
Shakespeare Behind Bars = 5.1% (over 21 year history)

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Today I saw my son grow. I saw him succeed at being a member of a group... he was happy and proud and was part of a community. Thank you for this wonderful day!
— Parent of SBB Juvenile Participant

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