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Johnson County employee paints murals to inspire new life outside jail cell

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Posted at 4:49 PM, Jun 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-18 17:49:55-04

OLATHE, Kan.  — A Johnson County employee traded in his cleaning supplies for art supplies to paint a new picture of what life could look like outside of a jail cell.

"Don't stop climbing; you don't know where you're going to end up," artist David Judd said.

That positive message is what inspired Judd's paintings inside the Johnson County Juvenile Detention Center.

For five years, Judd has worked as a custodian at the center. In an effort to brighten it up, Judd was chosen to paint murals throughout the building.

Ted Jester, director of the Johnson County Juvenile Services Center, said the facility was built in the 1990s as an adult detention facility. He said the murals help create a more positive environment for the juveniles there.

"I can't change the bones but I can kind of change the environment," Jester said. "The idea was to just kind of refurbish that environment with fresh paint and some uplifting words and just try to instill some positivity."

Judd has painted 11 murals in three separate adult and youth corrections facilities in Johnson County. His favorite is a panoramic view of a Kansas field.

"I hope it's making them feel at home, as if they're actually looking out the window and this is what they're seeing," Judd said.

Judd said behind each mural, there's a message he hopes will provide strength and encouragement to anyone who sees his work.

"There's always room for change. Tomorrow's another day; just keep your head up," Judd said.