Arts and Criminal Justice
The impact of the arts on rehabilitating offenders
The arts are practiced within the Criminal Justice System in many different ways. They take place in education classes within the prison system, via innovative voluntary sector organisations and are self-practiced with extraordinary results.
Arts and creativity in criminal justice settings can support improved wellbeing, awaken an interest in learning and can help people build new positive identities. Engaging in the arts can also lead to new skills and employment opportunities, as well as equipping participants with a desire to actively engage in their community and culture.
Dance, music, theatre, visual art and creative writing provide essential opportunities for people in prison, those serving community sentences and their families.
Rediscover worth and potential
- The Alliance’s Re-Imagining Futures report demonstrates a clear link between taking part in arts based activities and the movement towards a long-term, non-offending future. It reported that arts projects enable individuals to redefine themselves, engage with productive activities and improve their ability to co-operate with others.
Reconnect with the outside world
- 84% of participants in Safe Ground’s Family Man programme – which utilises drama, fiction, group discussion, games and written activity to change prisoners’ attitudes – reported improved relationships with their children and families.
Recover health and wellbeing
- Music in our Time, a participatory creative music programme for older prisoners in six prisons, was found to convey an array of personal and social opportunities, including improved self-confidence, interpersonal skills, enhanced wellbeing and improved mental health.
- Data submitted to the Justice Data Lab by Prisoners’ Education Trust, which delivers distance-learning courses, suggests that its input can reduce reoffending by over a quarter compared to a matched control group. Grants made for arts materials resulted in reducing the reoffending rate from 35% to 30%.
To find out more about the impact the arts can have on people in contact with the Criminal Justice System, visit our Evidence Library.
If you are looking for ways to demonstrate the impact of your arts project, please click here.
Image courtesy of Prisoners’ Education Trust (c) Rebecca Radmore