The following references present information on program implementation as well as methodologies to effectively evaluate the impact of prison arts programs. These may serve to guide future researchers when studying how and how well prison arts programs work. They may also aid in the design and implementation of future programs.

 

Balfour, M. and Poole, L. (1998). Evaluating Theater in Prisons and Probation. In Thompson, J. (Ed) Prison theater: Perspectives and Practices. London and Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, p. 217-230.

Argues for the benefits and necessity of evaluating the effectiveness of arts in prison and probation. Presents theories and methodologies of evaluation.

Hillman, Grady (2000). Evaluation, Advocacy and Sustainability in Arts Programs for Juvenile Offenders in Detention and Corrections: A Guide to Promising Practices. Washington, D.C.: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and National Endowment for the Arts, p. 23-25.

“Advocacy and evaluation activities that generate program recognition are critical components both to community acceptance and to the financial sustainability of juvenile justice arts programs” (p. 23).

Miller, Jerry and Rowe, William S. (Winter 2009). Cracking the Black Box: What Makes An Arts Intervention Program Work? Best Practices in Mental Health , 5(1), 52-64.

A review of “the limited literature on arts programming to identify a core set of practices that may be linked to positive outcomes [for arts programming for at-risk youth]. A template that identifies key components was developed to guide program implementation as well as future research” (p. 52).

Ploumis-Devick, E. (2011). Foreword in Shailor, J. (Ed.) Performing New Lives: Prison Theater . London and Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, p. 7-15.

Identifies three essential elements of effective arts-based programs as a mutually beneficial partnership with correctional professions; replicable and compatible program architecture; result-focused programming and implementation consistency (p. 7).

Williams, R.M. (2003). Evaluating Your Arts-in-Corrections Program” in Williams. Teaching the Arts Behind Bars . Boston: Northeastern University Press, p. 167-180.

Why evaluation is important, how to plan for an evaluation, what to look for when hiring an external evaluator, what to expect in a final report, and a way to do your own evaluation (p. 167).

YouthARTS Development Project (1998). Evaluation. In YouthARTS Handbook: Arts Programs for Youth At Risk . Americans for the Arts, p. 123-177.

How to conduct your own process and outcome evaluation, benefits and challenges of a well-planned program evaluation, a step-by-step approach for evaluating arts program outcomes and other best practices from the field.

1.

1. Arizona State University College of Liberal Arts & Sciences (2013). Calculating Impact: doing the numbers. Prison English News, 1(1), 2.

Author Affiliations: Arizona State University
Artforms: Creative writing, drama, literature, poetry
Program: Arizona State University Prison English Program
Program (Study) Location: Penitentiary of New Mexico, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Program Description: Arizona State University (ASU) offers two university-level English courses at the New Mexico state penitentiary. One-hundred-fifty inmates are linked with ASU undergraduates who provide critiques of inmate creative writing.
Study Published: Summer 2013
Participant Type: Maximum-security adult male inmates
Data Type: Quantitative
Evaluation Focus: Cost savings
Summary of Impact: As a result of the Prison English Program, the New Mexico Corrections Department receives program savings of $27,000-$40,500 per semester.

KEYWORDS: adult, cost-savings, creative writing, drama, linguistics, literature, poetry, prison education, Prison English Program, university

2.

2. Blinn, C. (1995) Teaching Cognitive Skills to Effect Behavioral Change Through a Writing Program. Journal of Correctional Education, 46(4), 146-154.

Author Affiliations: Emerson College
Artforms: Bibliotherapy, literature, writing
Program: Writing for Our Lives
Program Description: Writing for Our Lives used daily journal entries, weekly writing assignments and weekly classroom discussions to shift offenders’ self-identity from pro-criminal to pro-social, and to enhance problem-solving skills and impulse control. Short stories were used as “a basis for discussion of point of view regarding empathy, how the characters’ peer associations impact their lives, the life changes exhibited by the characters, and possible alternative solutions to problems encountered by the characters” (p. 147). The curriculum was designed to complement the Correctional Recovery Academy (CRA) program of the Massachusetts Department of Correction.
Program (Study) Location: Northeastern Correctional Center, Concord, Massachusetts
Study Published: 1995
Participant Type: Adult male inmates
Sample Size: 54
Data Type: Qualitative: instructor observations, participants’ written evaluations
Evaluation Focus: Research questions:
● Will offenders record prosocial behaviors on a daily basis? Will they
demonstrate increased prosocial behaviors after self-monitoring?
● Will participating in Writing for Our Lives enable offenders to change their self-identities from procriminal to prosocial? Will participation raise their sense of self-efficacy as writers? Will participant’s appreciation for the prosocial activity of writing increase?
● Will offenders master a model for concrete problem solving [“THINK FIRST”]? Will offenders demonstrate consequential thinking after learning the THINK FIRST method?
● Will offenders develop social perspective-taking skills through discussing the point(s) of view from which the assigned short stories are told?
● Will offenders make use of their knowledge of reading – or writing-related community activities after their release (p. 150)?
Summary of Impact:
● Offenders recorded prosocial behaviors on a daily basis and appeared to demonstrate increased prosocial behaviors with regard to this assignment (p. 150).
● Participation enabled offenders to begin (or continue) the process of changing their self-identities from procriminal to prosocial (p. 151).
● Significant increase in offenders’ sense of self-efficacy as writers (p. 151).
● Many offenders appeared to have mastered a model for concrete problem-solving and the ability to think consequentially (p. 151).

● Participants exhibited some measure of social perspective-taking skills when discussing the point(s) of view from which the assigned short stories were told (p. 152).

KEYWORDS: adult, behavior, bibliotherapy, consequences, identity, literature, problem-solving, pro-criminal pro-social, writing, ​
Writing for Our Live

3.

3. Brewster, L. (2010). The California arts-in-corrections music programme: A qualitative study. International Journal of Community Music, 3(1), 33-46.
Author Affiliations: University of San Francisco
Artforms: Guitar-building, music
Program: Arts-in-Corrections (AIC)
Program (Study) Location: Adult correctional facilities, California
Program Description: AIC was one of the first prisons arts program in the nation, operating from 1977-1981 under the auspices of the William James Association, and from 1981 to 2003 under the California Department of Corrections. Individual and group instruction was offered in the visual, performing, literary and media arts and fine craft disciplines in California correctional institutions. The California Department of Corrections resumed funding of the program in 2014.
Study Published: 2010
Participant Type: Former adult male inmates
Sample Size: 6
Data Type: Qualitative: In-depth interviews
Evaluation Focus: Impact of the AIC program on lives of inmates during and after incarceration.

Summary of Impact: Participants in AIC reported increased self discipline, self-esteem, self-respect, sense of purpose, and reconnection with family as a result of the program. Participants also reported reduced racial tension in the correctional facility. The evaluation follows up on ex-offenders 25 years after participation in the Arts-in-Corrections program, and the publication of Brewster’s 1983 cost-benefit analysis of the California AIC program.

KEYWORDS: adult, Arts-in-Corrections, discipline, family, guitar-building, music, race, self-esteem, self-respect, sense of purpose

4.

4. Brewster, L. (2014). California Prison Arts: A Quantitative Evaluation. Justice Policy Journal, 11(4).

Author Affiliations: University of San Francisco
Artforms: poetry, theater, visual arts, writing
Programs/Sponsors: The Actors’ Gang, Arts-in-Corrections (AIC), California Lawyers for the Arts, Marin Shakespeare, Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission, William James Association
Program Description: AIC was one of the first prisons arts program in the nation, operating from 1977-1981 under the auspices of the William James Association, and from 1981 to 2003 under the California Department of Corrections. Individual and group instruction was offered in the visual, performing, literary and media arts and fine craft disciplines in California correctional institutions. The California Department of Corrections resumed funding of the program in 2014. This study incorporated evaluations of AIC as well as post-AIC prison arts programs in California.
Program (Study) Location: The evaluation was conducted at four California correctional facilities:
●  California Rehabilitation Center, Norco ( The Actors’ Gang)
●  New Folsom State Prison (Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission)
●  San Quentin State Prison ( Marin Shakespeare )
●  Correctional Training Facility, Soledad (William James Association) Study Published: 2014
Participant Type: Adult male inmates
Sample Size: 110
Data Type: Pre- and post-surveys: Life Effectiveness Questionnaire (LEQ) measuring time management, social competence, achievement motivation, intellectual flexibility, emotional control, active initiative and self-confidence Evaluation Focus: Changes in inmates’ attitudes and behavior

Summary of Impact:
●  Pre- and post-test survey results of inmates with no previous arts education and practice showed positive and statistically significant correlation between participation in theater, writing and visual arts classes and improved time management, achievement motivation, intellectual flexibility, active initiative and self-confidence.
●  A significant majority of former AIC inmates attribute the arts program with giving them greater confidence and self-discipline to pursue other academic and vocational opportunities. This was especially true for those who had participated in AIC for two or more years.
●  Reduction in self-reported disciplinary reports while involved in the arts classes; 61% of those who participated in AIC for 5 or more years reported improved behavior.
●  Most AIC inmates reported better relations with other inmates and with prison staff.
●  A significant majority of participants reported that the arts program helped them relieve stress, feel happier and gain valuable insights.
●  58% of arts-program participants said art brought them closer to family, enriched their conversations and nurtured a new identity as artist rather than convict.
●  Positive though not statistically significant change in participants’ feelings of social competence and emotional control; this improvement was statistically significant for those who participated two or more years in AIC.

KEYWORDS: academic, a chievement motivation , active initiative, The Actors’ Gang , adult, Arts-in-Corrections , attitudes, behavior, California Lawyers for the Arts, disciplinary reports, discipline, emotional control, family, happiness, identity, intellectual flexibility, Marin Shakespeare , personal growth, poetry, self-confidence, self-discipline, social competence, social relations, stress, theater, time management, visual arts, vocational, writing

5.

5. Brewster, L. (1983). An Evaluation of the Arts-in-Corrections Program of the California Department of Corrections. Santa Cruz, CA: William James Association.

Author Affiliations: San Jose State University
Artforms: Ceramics, fine crafts, guitar-making, literary arts, media arts, music, painting, performing arts, printmaking, sculpting, visual arts, writing
Program: Arts-in-Corrections (AIC)
Program Description: AIC was one of the first prisons arts program in the nation, operating from 1977-1981 under the auspices of the William James Association, and from 1981 to 2003 under the California Department of Corrections. Individual and group instruction was offered in the visual, performing, literary and media arts and fine craft disciplines in California correctional institutions. The California Department of Corrections resumed funding of the program in 2014.
Program (Study) Location: T he author evaluated the following four AIC locations:
●  California Medical Facility at Vacaville
●  Deuel Vocational Institution, Tracy, California
●  San Quentin State Prison
●  Correctional Training Facility at Soledad
Study Published: 1983
Participant Type: Adult male inmates
Sample Size: AIC programs at four California Department of Corrections facilities Data Type: Quantitative
Evaluation Focus: Costs and benefits of the California Arts-in-Corrections program from three perspectives: social, taxpayer and individual

Summary of Impact:
●  $228,522 in measurable social benefits (including $105,406 in taxpayer benefits and $123,116 in individual benefits) compared with a cost to the California Department of Corrections of $162,790 (p. 41).
●  35.9% of the AIC participants at the California Medical Facility and 65.7% of those at the Correctional Training Facility had fewer disciplinary actions while participating in the program (p. 29).
●  75% of AIC participants at the California Medical Facility and 80.6% of those at the Correctional Training Facility had fewer disciplinary infractions when compared with nonparticipants (after excluding inmates who received no disciplinary citations while at the institution) (p. 29).
●  The decrease in disciplinary actions reduced disciplinary administration time by 4,553 hours with a concomitant cost savings of $77,406 (p. 29).

KEYWORDS: adult, Arts-in-Corrections , ceramics, disciplinary reports, discipline, fine crafts, guitar-making, incidents, literary arts, media arts, music, painting, performing arts, printmaking, relationships, sculpting, self-confidence, self-esteem, skills, taxpayers, violence, visual arts, writing

6.

6. Brewster, L. (2010). A Qualitative Study of the California Arts-in-Corrections Program. Santa Cruz, CA: William James Association.


Author Affiliations:
University of San Francisco
Artforms: Ceramics, fine crafts, guitar-making, literary arts, media arts, music, painting, performing arts, printmaking, sculpting, visual arts, writing
Program: Arts-in-Corrections (AIC)
Program Description: AIC was one of the first prisons arts program in the nation, operating from 1977-1981 under the auspices of the William James Association, and from 1981 to 2003 under the California Department of Corrections. Individual and group instruction was offered in the visual, performing, literary and media arts and fine craft disciplines in California correctional institutions. The California Department of Corrections resumed funding of the program in 2014.
Program (Study) Location: Northern California
Study Published: 2010
Participant Type: Adult male and female former inmates
Sample Size: 18 (16 male and 2 female)
Data Type: Qualitative: In-depth interviews
Evaluation Focus: Impact of AIC on lives of inmates during and after incarceration

Summary of Impact: Inmates revealed that participation in the AIC program enhanced their self-esteem, work ethic, discipline and identity as artists. All interviewees successfully completed parole, and 31% (5 of 16) self-identify as artists, earning all or part of their living through art.

KEYWORDS: adult, Arts-in-Corrections, ceramics, fine crafts, guitar-making, identity, literary arts, media arts, music, painting, performing arts, printmaking, purpose, rehabilitation, sculpting, self-esteem, visual arts, work ethic, writing

7.

7. California Department of Corrections. (n.d.). Arts-in-Corrections Research Synopsis on Parole Outcomes for Participants Paroled December 1980-February 1987 . Santa Cruz, CA: William James Association Prison Arts Program.


Author Affiliations: California Department of Corrections
Artforms: Ceramics, fine crafts, guitar-making, literary arts, media arts, music, painting, performing arts, printmaking, sculpting, visual arts, writing
Program: Arts-in-Corrections (AIC)
Program Description: AIC was one of the first prisons arts program in the nation, operating from 1977-1981 under the auspices of the William James Association, and from 1981 to 2003 under the California Department of Corrections. Individual and group instruction was offered in the visual, performing, literary and media arts and fine craft disciplines in California correctional institutions. The California Department of Corrections resumed funding of the program in 2014.
Program (Study) Location: Adult correctional institutions, California
Study Published: 1987
Participant Type: Adult inmates who participated in at least one class per week for six months
Sample Size: 177
Data Type: Quantitative: Review of parole data
Evaluation Focus: Parole outcomes, recidivism

Summary of Impact: The research shows that as time since release increased, the difference between the percentage of favorable outcomes for AIC and all CDC parolees becomes greater.
●  Six months after parole AIC participants showed an 88% rate of favorable outcomes (no parole difficulties, technical parolee infractions, misdemeanor convictions only) versus 72.5% for all releases Specifically, six months after parole, Arts-in-Corrections participants show an 88% rate of favorable outcome as compared to the 72.25% rate for all CDC releases (p. 1).
●  Over a one-year period, the AIC participant favorable outcome was 74.2% versus 49.6% for all parolees (p. 1).
●  Two years after release, 69.2% of AIC parolees retained their favorable status (versus 42% for all releases) (p. 1).
●  After six months, AIC favorable rate was 15.7 percentage points higher than rate for all CDC releases. Two years after release, the difference climbed to 27.2 percentage points (p. 1).

KEYWORDS: adult, Arts-in-Corrections , ceramics, fine crafts, guitar-making, literary arts, media arts, music, painting, parole, performing arts, printmaking, recidivism, sculpting, visual arts, writing

8.

8. California Lawyers for the Arts in collaboration with Dr. Larry Brewster of the University of San Francisco, the William James Association, Fresno Arts Council, Community Works West and Jail Guitar Doors. (2016). Arts-in-Corrections County Jails Project.

Author Affiliations: N/A
Artforms: guitar, music, mixed-media collage, theater, movement, music, song writing
Program: California Arts-in-Corrections (AIC)
Program Description: In the wake of federal court mandates to reduce the overcrowding in California’s state prisons, more people are being confined for longer periods in county jails. Working with local arts agencies affiliated with county governments and other arts organizations, CLA began a multi-year project in 2015 to evaluate the effectiveness of arts engagement for inmates held in county jails throughout California. The first phase of the study, which was completed in January 2017, measured participants’ behavior at the end of programs in five counties. With support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Quentin Hancock Fund, CLA’s team has established the project in five additional counties in 2017 and has identified an additional eight that are interested in participating in 2018. The study comprised several programs: a beginning guitar course (18 weeks), mixed-media collage, 12-week theater and movement, 12-week music and song writing. Program (Study) Location: Santa Cruz Main Jail (mixed-media collage), San Francisco County Jail – San Bruno Complex (theater and movement), MCJ Twin Towers Correctional Facility (L.A.) (music and songwriting) and Fresno County Jail (beginning guitar).
Participant Type: Adult males 18-51, varied educational backgrounds, 55% Hispanic/Latin American and African American
Sample Size: 59
Study Published: Organizational publication, 2016.
Data Type: Inmate surveys
Evaluation Focus: Behavioral and attitudinal changes experienced by program participants.

Summary of Impact: Overall, inmates reported attitudinal and behavioral changes that led to reduced disciplinary incidents. Benefits extended to families, communities and general public. The authors stated, “The overwhelming majority of participants found the art program to be “potentially life changing as they learned to feel better about themselves and others.” The authors state that the program helped inmates better control their emotions and enhanced intellectual flexibility, enhanced problem-solving, and greater self-confidence and esteem. It also gave them feelings of social inclusion, rather than exclusion and contributed to the development of a new identity, that of artist. Specifically, the study found:
●  91% of participants “strongly agreed” that arts instructors showed respect for each student.
●  86.2% said they looked forward to art classes more than any other activity.
●  82.8% said they felt better about themselves.
●  89.5% said the program provided a safe environment for them to explore their creativity.
●  67.2% strongly agreed with the statement, “I Am Better Able to Communicate With Others.”
●  81% strongly agreed that “I Am Less Stressed and Frustrated When Working On My Art.”
●  74.1% felt better able to express their emotions.
●  78.9% felt there was less racial tension in the arts program than elsewhere.
●  72.4% said men reacted differently (presumably better) inside the arts program than elsewhere.
●  58.6% reported better relationships with other inmates since involvement with the program.
●  62.1% reported better relationships with jail staff since involvement with the program.
●  70.1% “strongly agreed” and 20.7% “agreed” that they had tried things in the arts programs that they never expected.

KEYWORDS: adult, attitudes, behavior, California Arts-in-Corrections, communication, community, discipline, emotional control, family, guitar, incidents, identity, intellectual flexibility, interpersonal skills, Jail Guitar Doors, male, mixed-media collage, movement, music, peer relations, prosocial, race, relationships, respect, self confidence, sense of self, songwriting, stress, theater

9.

Cleveland, W. (1992). Geese Theater: America’s National Prison Theater Company. in Cleveland, W. Art in Other Places: Artists at Work in America’s Community and Social Institutions. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, p. 51-73.
Author Affiliations: Center for the Study of Art & Community Artforms: Drama, drama therapy, theater
Program: Geese Theater
Project (Study) Location: Mount Pleasant Correctional Facility, Iowa
Project Description: Drama workshops in correctional settings
Participant Type: Adult male inmates Sample Size: unspecified
Study Published: 1992
Data Type: Quantitative
Evaluation Focus: The study evaluated relationship outcomes among inmates who participated in a month-long residency program called “Theater in a Month.” The original study, on which this articles is based, ( Outcomes for Inmate Participants in Drama Programs. Mount Pleasant, Iowa: Mount Pleasant Correctional Facility, Iowa Department of Corrections, 1982), was not available.

Summary of Impact: 70% of men who participated for the entire program showed “significant positive change in their relationship with peers and authority figures over a three month period” (p. 61).

KEYWORDS: adult, authority figures, drama, drama therapy, peers, relationships, social, theater