The House of Lords discuss arts in criminal justice
The National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance’s Re-imagining Futures report was this week referred to by crossbench peer Baroness Bull at the House of Lords debate on how sport, recreation, and the arts contribute to wellbeing of society.
“I do not pretend that the arts are a panacea for all of society’s ills, and I am well aware that similar claims to these about the benefits of sport have already been made in this debate by other noble Lords, but I believe that there is something unique about art, and that distinction derives from the personal experience of it. As the AHRC’s 2016 report made clear, some of the most important contributions made by art to society are embedded in the individual experience—in art’s ability to make us more self-reflective and better able to understand ourselves and therefore to understand others.
Perhaps nowhere is that more powerfully demonstrated than in the still-too-rare examples of art in prisons. The 2013 Re-Imagining Futures report explored arts interventions in the processes of desistance. It found that arts engagement helped prisoners redefine themselves. It increased their ability to work with others, which correlated with increased self-control, and through art they were able to imagine and then to explore alternative ways of living their lives.
[…] Does the Minister agree that we need urgently to find ways to address this conundrum—that those people who would derive most benefit from engagement with the arts are often the least likely to be given the means through which to access it? In the end, the well-being of society, whether through art, sport or recreation, depends on the well-being of individuals—individuals across all parts of society, and particularly those most in need.”
Image taken from the report: Spring Colours, HMP Full Sutton, Pierce Brunt. Highly Commended Award for Watercolour. Courtesy of the Koestler Trust.