Incarcerated Women “Chalk the Walk” as part of their rehabilitative journey to release back into the community

Chalk on a walkway in a Utah neighborhood? Pretty common.

Chalk on a walkway . . . in a Utah prison? OK, that’s new.

Women in the Elevate program at the Utah State Correctional Facility spent a part of Tuesday, June 26, drawing on the concrete between the Dell and Emerald housing units, which comprise the majority of the women’s facilities at USCF. Elevate is the residential substance use program for women at the site.

The Chalk the Walk activity saw the women create original artworks or replicate drawings they brought with them. The explosion of brightly-colored chalk designs quickly took over the roughly 100-yard thoroughfare.

“I think it’s great,” said Leslie Crafts, her right hand dusted with the neon pink Crayola chalk she was applying. “It kinda gives us a little bit of freedom and it’s a lot of fun.”  

The project was designed as a therapeutic approach to promote community bonding and pro-social behavior, noted Kim Zundel, a case specialist with the Elevate program. It’s the first time the event has been tried at USCF, which opened in July 2022.

“Even the ones that are pretty quiet are coming out of their shell and interacting with their peers,” said Zundel. “That’s pretty good.”

Interaction was evident, as the amateur artists shared laughs and exchanged colored chalk back and forth. All the while, the turtles, landscapes and inspirational messages became real on the path.

“It’s working with each other and it shows creativity,” said Brittany Karczewski as she carefully outlined a unicorn she said was for her daughter. “It’s just a chance to have some sober fun. Some of us haven’t had that before.”


Liam Truchard, Communications Specialist