APAEP Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project


Inmates in class


Heralded by the Christian Science Monitor as one of the most innovative and effective programs in Alabama prisons, the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project is dedicated to bringing educational opportunities to prisoners in Alabama. The program believes in the importance of the adult prison population to gain a quality education, and to build a relationship with learning that will continue to grow for the rest of their lives.

Kyes Stevens, the Founding Director of APAEP, describes the growth of the program in her own words, as follows:

"The beginning of the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project cannot be pinpointed to one certain day or week. It was and continues to be an evolutionary and dynamic program fueled by a dedicated group of artists, writers and scholars who believe that knowledge and creative development can change someone’s life."

The first phase of what is now APAEP was established in 2002 and called The Alabama Prison Arts Initiative was funded by the National Endowment of the Arts in 2003. The Center for the Arts & Humanities at Auburn University served as the fiscal agent for the small initiative. In 2004, APAEP took its current name when it became a full-time program of the Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts & Humanities.

APAEP was housed in Auburn’s College of Liberal Arts from 2008 until the Spring of 2012, when it moved to the Department of Human Development and Family Studies in the College of Human Sciences. Also in 2012, the SPARKs lecture series was born out of a collaboration between APAEP and AU’s College of Agriculture and College of Science and Mathematics beginning a weekly lecture series with one faculty member presenting on a new subject each week. 

With the addition of a credit granting program in Interdisciplinary Studies, APAEP moved to University College in 2016. This new branch of APAEP offers Bachelor of Science programming through Auburn University to students who successfully complete a rigorous application project. The degree curriculum combines focal areas of Business and Human Development and Family Studies. APAEP still continues to offer its pre-college programming in correctional facilities all over the state.

APAEP grew from one poet teaching in one prison, to a pool of close to 100 writers, artists, scholars and visiting writers teaching in 12 correctional facilities in Alabama. APAEP started with courses in poetry and creative writing, and expanded their offerings to include a variety of subjects, such as southern literature, photography, African-American literature, Alabama history, drawing, engineering and pilot courses in global issues, personal development and re-entry, and various other academic topics.


Thanks in part to a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, students in APAEP classes have the opportunity for their works to be published in the APAEP anthology which is printed and sold every two years. The anthologies contain poems, stories, paintings, drawings, and photographs created by students over the course of the year. These anthologies are not only about displaying artwork and creative writing for the public to enjoy.

The anthologies are available through APAEP, and give the emerging artists and poets a chance to see their best work in print. All monies from the sale of the anthology go to the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Program.

Click here to read a samples of past APAEP anthologies.

Contact our office to purchase an APAEP anthology.



Inmate sketching
APAEP Anthology covers page
APAEP Anthology covers page
APAEP Anthology covers page
APAEP Anthology Covers page
APAEP Anthology Covers page
Inmate art
Man viewing inmates' art


Art on the Inside is a traveling exhibit of work produced by the student participants in the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project. Made up of drawings and photographs, and occasionally poems, Art on the Inside is available for public exhibitions. Along with the travelling exhibit, much of the artwork collected over the years from the APAEP students is currently for sale at our online gallery.

All monies go back into the our program and provide additional education opportunities for our student population.

For information on hosting "Art on the Inside", please contact us.


The Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project works with 19 different correctional facilities to build their libraries through the Books Behind Bars program. To date we have collected over 18,000 books from donors all over the country, and these books have made a huge impact on the students in our classes, as well as the general populations in the facilities.

We are happy to accept all books within the guidelines that can help our libraries grow in diversity and also better serve our students.
Certain genres of books donated to prison libraries are not acceptable. If you are interested in donating to Books Behind Bars, please take a look at the list below and make sure your donations fall under our guidelines.


  • Contemporary fiction
  • Paperback books
  • Non-Fiction
  • Poetry
  • Basic course textbooks (Basic Math, Economics, and Social Science)
  • GED study materials and practice tests

Not Acceptable:

  • Hard back books
  • Collections of Readers' Digest
  • Religious materials
  • True Crime
  • Romance

Please mark through any personal information in books and mail donations to 381 Mell Street, 220 M. White Smith Hall, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849-5674. Donations can also be delivered to 220 M. White Smith Hall or call 334-844-8946 or 334-844-3240 to make arrangements.

APAEP has been fortunate enough to have a number of publishers donate books to our program.

 View list of book donors.





Stack of books

Last modified: April 28, 2017