Halperin, R., Kessler, S. & Braunschweiger, D. (April 2012). Rehabilitation Through the Arts: Impact on Participants’ Engagement in Educational Programs. The Journal of Correctional Education, 63(1), 6-23.
Author Affiliations: Department of Psychology, Purchase College, SUNY
Artforms: Drama, theater
Program: Rehabilitation Through the Arts (RTA)
Program Description: RTA was founded in 1996 at Sing Sing Correctional Facility in New York State and now operates programs in theater, dance, creative writing, voice and visual arts in five New York State correctional facilities. In addition to developing inmates’ reading, writing, and leadership skills, RTA claims that participants benefit by being part of a social network (p.10). Since its inception, over 200 inmates have participated in RTA’s Sing Sing program.
Program (Study) Location: Sing Sing Correctional Facility, Ossining, New York Study Published: 2012
Participant Type: Adult male inmates
Sample Size: 116 RTA participants, 118 controls
Data Type: Quantitative: Comparison ( RTA participants) and control group data: entry date, birth date, race, crime category, educational degree at entry, first and second math and reading scores, and educational degrees earned during imprisonment, and enrollment in various educational programs over time.
Evaluation Focus: The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of RTA on inmate participation in voluntary educational programs, and academic degree completion. RTA participants were compared to a sample of incarcerated men matched on age, ethnicity, crime, date of entry Into prison, time served, and earliest release date.
Summary of Impact: The study found that arts programs may motivate those with long sentences to pursue educational degrees. Specifically, based on the experimental and control group findings:
● 57.6% of those who participated in RTA program earned degrees beyond the GED while incarcerated, compared with 28.6% and 39.6% in control groups (p. 14).
● RTA participants spent about the same proportion of time engaged in GED programs as comparisons, but less time after joining RTA (due to degree attainment) (p. 15).
● RTA participants who were incarcerated with a high-school diploma spent proportionally more time engaged in college programs, but only after joining RTA , versus the comparison group (p. 15).
KEYWORDS: academic, adult, college, drama, education, GED, Rehabilitation Through the Arts , theater