The thesis of this article in the New York Times is the question “Can Improv Theater Workshops Reform Criminals?, and the answer is no.

Criminality is within the mind and it is a chosen way of life seen by the criminal as the best option in a fallen world.

Sure, some people who take workshops—of whatever nature—in prison will not return to prison after release, but the exception isn’t the rule.

The idea implicit in this article is that crime is a matter of bad social conditions and learning tools to better access society reduces criminality.

For professional criminals—those who commit crimes for money—this is not the case, something we covered extensively in our book, The Criminals Search for God, and all our books are available at Amazon at

An excerpt from the New York Times article.

DETROIT — ONE of the members of our improv workshop, a baby-faced man in his 30s, made up a rule: The last person to arrive has to do a cartwheel. A shaggy-haired man with creaky knees manages a groaning little hop, while another wheels like a shot of light. In this fluorescent-lit classroom at the Macomb Correctional Facility in Michigan, it’s the willingness to take a risk that counts.

For three years, my friend Matt Erickson and I have led the improv theater workshop, sponsored by the University of Michigan’s Prison Creative Arts Project, at this medium-security state prison 30 miles outside Detroit. Improv is about freedom, and so there is a built-in challenge — and deep irony — in attempting to practice it in a prison.

On Thursday evenings, Matt and I sign in at the prison and then move through “the bubble” — a white room containing a metal detector, where we show identification, remove our shoes and are patted down by a corrections officer. We hook P.P.D.s — personal protection devices — into our pockets. The beige contraptions have a pin to pull in emergencies. We’ve never needed them, though once, during a game of “freeze,” the P.P.D. fell out of my pocket and went off when it hit the ground. Officers rushed to my aid and then rolled their eyes when I explained what had happened.

For an hour and a half, we guide our participants in games that prompt unscripted collaboration and play. We transport ourselves into a forest, a White Castle, a Transylvanian train. We imagine ourselves as prom queens and C.E.O.s.

I had led prison poetry groups for years, so when I began this workshop, I was less afraid of incarcerated men than I was of improv itself. I’m accustomed to writing and revising stories before sending them out into the world, not making them up — and acting them out — before an audience. I was afraid of looking like a fool. But these men have such an infectious joy in improv that it makes me feel safe.

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