Arts and cultural activities have a long tradition of successfully empowering people in the criminal justice system to turn their lives around. Evidence indicates that the arts can support the process of desistance from crime. Research shows creativity in criminal justice settings can support improved wellbeing, awaken an interest in learning and can help people build positive new identities. Engaging in the arts can also lead to new skills and employment opportunities, as well as equipping participants with a desire to actively engage in their community and culture.
Fostering empathy, building family connections and playing a role in restorative justice, arts in criminal justice settings have also been found to improve safety and wellbeing in prisons and can play a role in building safer communities. The Justice Data lab found that simply providing access to arts and craft materials in cells, can have a positive impact on reoffending rates.
Arts interventions in criminal justice settings face numerous challenges - from a difficult funding climate to operational challenges and public misconceptions - but there is clear evidence, and growing recognition, that access to the arts provides a springboard to positive change.
Clinks’ National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance represents a network of over 900 individuals and organisations who deliver creative interventions to support people in prison, on probation and in the community, with impressive results.
Read Clinks case studies showcasing the innovative work of our members using arts in the criminal justice system.
Impacts of Covid-19 on the financial sustainability of the voluntary sector working in criminal justice
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