Ezell, M., & Levy, M. (2003). An Evaluation of an Arts Program for Incarcerated Juvenile Offenders. Journal of Correctional Education, 54(3), 108-114.
Author Affiliations: Academic (Ezell) and Social Work Administration (Levy)
Artforms: Cartoon art, collage, creative writing, drama, film, graphic design, multimedia, murals, music, papier-mache, photography, poetry, television, visual arts, wood sculpture
Program: A Changed World
Program Description: A Changed World (ACW) facilitates teaching and interaction between artists and institutionalized juvenile offenders. The purpose of the program is to reduce recidivism of juvenile offenders (p. 109). Major objectives include: I) to inculcate cultural and community awareness: 2) to lessen the risks of inappropriate behavior within the institutional environment: 3) to develop vocational and academic skills that will motivate and assist the student with the search for employment/career; and 4) to reduce the likelihood to reoffend after release (p.109-110). Artists conduct workshops ranging from two weeks to two months. During the first and second evaluation years (1996 and 1997), participants created a touring multimedia exhibit that included curriculum materials for use by teachers and counselors. During the third year of the evaluation (1998), participants produced a film for television.
Program (Study) Location: Juvenile correctional facilities, Washington State Study Published: 2003
Participant Type: Institutionalized juvenile offenders
● First Year Evaluation (1996): 86
● Second Year Evaluation (1997): 57
● Third Year Evaluation (1998): 41
Data Type: Mixed Method: Quantitative and Qualitative
● First Year Evaluation: Youth self-reports and staff reports using a pre-and post-test multi-item scale design to measure changes in self-esteem. peer relations, cultural awareness, and community identity.
● Second and Third Year Evaluations: open-ended survey of participants; teacher assessments; artist observations; staff reports on misbehavior; court records.
Evaluation Focus: The evaluation sought to examine the potential of the arts to impact youth behavior during incarceration and after release. The evaluation asked: “1. Do students learn new academic and vocational skills from the art workshops? 2. Does institutional behavior of program participants improve during their workshops? 3. How does the recidivism rate of program participants compare to nonparticipants (p.110)?
Summary of Impact:
● First-Year Findings:
○ No statistically significant change in youth’s self-esteem, peer relations or cultural awareness during the two weeks duration of the program.
○ Ability to differentiate between life in and out of an institution improved in 31.7% of participants.
○ Moderate or substantial progress on all learning goals, especially academic goals including increases in 86 different academic skills.
● Second and Third Year Findings:
○ Artists perceived that almost all of youth had accomplished almost all of their goals.
○ 61.3% of youth said they learned concrete vocational skills.
○ 70.3% reported positive feelings about their projects.
○ 17.6% had feelings of accomplishment.
○ 63% reduction in behavioral incidents pre-workshops versus during workshops.
○ Of 24 youth followed for recidivism, 16.7% recidivated within six months versus 32.9% for a control group of youth released in 1992.
KEYWORDS: academic, A Changed World, attitude, behavior, cartoon art, collaboration, collage, community, confidence, creative writing, cultural awareness, drama, employment, film, graphic design, identity, juvenile, misbehavior, multimedia, murals, music, papier-mache, peer relations, photography, poetry, recidivism, rules violations, self-esteem, skills development, television, visual arts, vocational skills, wood sculpture, youth