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