BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. (CBS4) – An unusual art program is changing the lives of inmates serving hard time.

Colorful origami peace cranes created by prisoners are now filling the halls of the Summit County Justice Center in Breckenridge. The exhibit, which features more than 1,000 of the cranes, will be dedicated as a new art installation called “Peace Crane: A Journey” on Friday afternoon.

The display was started by inmates at the detention facility two years ago as part of a behavior health project. Each peace crane include a message inside that relays what the inmates were thinking and feeling at the time of their creation.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

“It’s centered around mental health, substance abuse, to try to help inmates resolve some inner conflict,” said Summit County Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons.

The inmates who participated were all dealing with their demons in a simplistic yet moving way.

“They have to work together in order to build these origami, so it taught them to work with each other,” FitzSimons said.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS) (credit: CBS)

Piles of the colorful cranes stacked up until the art instillation could take shape.

“There are years of work and many, many people involved,” County Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier said. “There is a lot behind all these cranes”

This form of restorative justice might seem a little silly to some. But inmates like the one a CBS4 crew witnessed this week standing on a ladder with his orange jumpsuit on and patiently gluing cranes on the wall know the project is doing something special inside.

“These were made by inmates, but most importantly these (were made by) people who are still members of the community, you know?” he said.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

“I want the community to be safe, but we also want these people to have better lives and be part of our community,” Stiegelmeier said.

The hope is that the folded paper will send a message of hope and restoring lives, and show a little bit of humanity inside the halls of place that needs it most.

Additional Resources

See the exhibit at the Summit County Justice Center, which is located at 501 N. Park Ave. in Breckenridge.

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