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Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Monday, August 7, 2006

M&M Prison Artist Disciplined for Selling Paintings for Charity

From NYTimes.com: A prison artist in California who uses the dye from M&M’s for paint has been disciplined for what a prison official yesterday called “unauthorized business dealings” in the sale of his paintings. The prison has also barred the prisoner, Donny Johnson, from sending his paintings through the mail.

Mr. Johnson’s work has been on display for the last several weeks at a gallery in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Twenty of his paintings have been sold, for $500 each. Mr. Johnson had donated the paintings to the Pelican Bay Prison Project, a charity which says it will honor Mr. Johnson’s wish that it use the proceeds from the show to help the children of prisoners.

According to a “serious rules violation report” issued by the prison last month, Mr. Johnson ran afoul of a corrections department regulation that prohibits engaging in a business or profession without the warden’s permission. The regulation defines a business as “any revenue-generating or profit-making activity.”

Francisco Jacquez, the chief deputy warden at Pelican Bay State Prison, in Crescent City, Calif., said the violation could extend Mr. Johnson’s sentence or restrict his privileges. “There are some consequences, and that’s what we use to maintain discipline in prison,” Mr. Jacquez said, declining to be more specific. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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