Littman, Danielle Maude and Sliva, Shannon. (2021). ”The walls came down:” A Mixed-Methods Multi-Site Prison Arts Program Evaluation. Justice Evaluation Journal, 1-23.
Author Affiliations: University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work
Artforms: Creative writing, literature, movement, music, theater
Program: University of Denver Prison Arts Initiative (DU PAI)
Program Description: DU PAI is a partnership between the University of Denver and the Colorado Department of Corrections (CDOC) and currently offers programming at 11 CDOC facilities. Programs are semester-long and include a newspaper program, arts-based workshops (theater, creative writing, music, literature, movement, dance and cross-disciplinary), full-length production processes and a podcast. The DU PAI program strives to create “creative and collaborative learning experiences that enrich the lives of incarcerated people” and “build collaborative communities that serve as spaces for therapeutic healing and innovative thinking” (p. 4).
Program (Study) Location: 8 Colorado Department of Corrections facilities
Participant Type: Male and female adult offenders
Sample Size: 146 pre-test; 117 post-test
Study Published: January 7, 2021
Data Type: Mixed methods quantitative and qualitative pre- and post-test evaluations
Evaluation Focus: Impact of the arts program particularly on artistic identity, connection and community, skill attainment and social emotional growth
Summary of Impact: Quantitative findings included statistically significant improvements in measures of self-efficacy, community connection and skill attainment. Qualitative results indicated that participants experienced learning, growth and discovery; opening up; authentic self-expression; empathy and perspective taking; belonging and connection; creative collaboration; and joy and freedom. The indicated that the programs fostered participation, caring, respect, and emotional involvement.
KEYWORDS: adult, artistic identity, belonging community, conflict resolution, connection cross-disciplinary, creative writing, emotional growth, empathy, identity, literacy, movement, music, participation, problem solving, respect, self-efficacy, skill attainment, social relations, theater, University of Denver Prison Arts Initiative