CASTLE ROCK, Colo. — Inside the walls of the Douglas County Justice Center, incredible works of art are popping up one by one.
They feature an American flag, a hero’s flag and two badges honoring fallen deputies.
But the paintings weren’t commissioned by an outside artist.
Instead, they were painted by an unexpected source within: an inmate named Lucas Mefford.
“I was about 2 or 3 when I started drawing,” he said. “I was always just a quiet kid. I’d just sit back and get lost in artwork.”
Mefford is an accomplished artist with pencil and paper, but had never used paint before these murals.
“It was a challenge, but it was fun,” he said. “I don’t ever think about anything in here when I draw. It takes me away.”
Mefford admits his life has taken some unexpected turns, capped off with an arrest in Highlands Ranch last year for violating his parole.
“I had a pistol on me,” he said. “And obviously, I’m not supposed to have firearms because of the fact that I’m a felon.”
Back in jail, he’s been collecting magazine clippings and drawing the people in them.
It was a few months back when a chaplain inside the jail stumbled upon Mefford’s artwork.
Jail staff asked if he’d be interested in drawing an American flag mural in the booking lobby.
“I said, ‘Yeah.’ You know? Art needs to be shared,” Mefford said.
Captain Darren Weekly says he was so impressed, he asked Mefford to keep going.
“I was a bit apprehensive, but when I saw the work he did, it was, quite frankly, amazing,” Weekly said.
Mefford was asked to paint murals honoring fallen Deputies Zack Parrish and Donald King.
“It’s hard for anyone to lose a loved one, especially a comrade, or a father or brother. It’s sad,” he said.
Weekly says the paintings have already boosted morale inside the jail.
“The people who are in here, most of them are having a bad day,” he said of soon-to-be inmates. “This brightens it up.”
He said it’s also given deputies who work at the jail a chance to pay respects to their fallen brothers.
“Ron was actually my instructor for my law enforcement academy,” said Weekly. “He made a big impact on me back then.”
As for Mefford, he’s scheduled to be released later this year.
“I’m just looking to live life, I’m tired of doing this, tired of being in and out all the time,” he said.
Mefford hopes he never has to see these murals again.
“They always say don’t sign anything in jail, because you’ll just be back. But I feel like a left a good imprint.”