Shawshank star Tim Robbins teaches prisoners to act
13 May 2011 Last updated at 06:38 BST
Governments around the world are making huge cutbacks to reduce deficits and in California prison rehabilitation programmes are among the first publicly-funded services to go.
In a state with twice as many inmates as the entire UK prison population one of the few schemes now available is run by the Oscar-winning actor Tim Robbins.
The star of classic prison movie The Shawshank Redemption told BBC News about how the programme helps inmates.