Riverways Superintendent Larry Johnson, right, with one of the inmates at the South Central Correctional Center who painted the mural in honor of Ozark National Scenic Riverways.

An inmate at the South Central Correctional Center in Licking painted a mural featuring scenes from Ozark National Scenic Riverways. It was donated to the organization and is now displayed publicly.

Superintendent Larry Johnson was invited to the prison for the surprise gift, which was hand-painted by one inmate at the correctional facility. The artwork, measuring approximately seven feet tall by nine feet wide, was created using acrylic paints on heavy art paper and coated with acrylic spray to protect it while on display. It depicts imagery of Alley Spring, Big Spring, Rocky Falls and Akers Ferry with the National Park Service arrowhead emblem as the focal point at the center of the mural. 

“This mural is an outstanding piece of artwork and is beautifully done, considering the artist painted from photos because he was unable to visit the park himself,” Johnson said. “We are grateful for this wonderful donation and we thank the South Central Correctional Center and the artist himself for enriching others in this way.”

The South Central Correctional Center participates in the “Restorative Justice Program” that is offered throughout the state by the Missouri Department of Corrections. Restorative Justice is based on the philosophy that when a crime is committed, a debt is incurred. The program holds the offender accountable, encourages them to reflect on the harm caused by their criminal actions and provides a means for them to repay their debt to the community. Restorative Justice also provides the offender with an opportunity to leave the corrections system with an improved attitude and sense of belonging, and potentially with additional skills they can use after their release. Inmates at the South Central Correctional facility have also created pieces of artwork, quilts and other items that have been donated to local organizations.  

The mural was installed for display in the Van Buren Visitor Center by the volunteers from the park’s Heritage Workshop. It will remain on display in Van Buren for the rest of 2018, after which it will be stored in the park’s archive. 

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