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Arts in Corrections research

This page has links to research and publications in New Zealand and internationally about Arts in Corrections and their benefits as a tool supporting rehabilitation and re-integration. 

Literature review of arts benefits

Arts Access Aotearoa has conducted a literature review that examines the benefits that accrue from the delivery of arts programmes in criminal justice settings (in prison, on parole and Community Corrections). These benefits can be monetised to show a return on investment of perhaps four times the cost of an arts programme intervention. It also considers the value of a standardised and comprehensive framework for Arts in Corrections. 
The benefits of Arts in Corrections: literature review (PDF 720 KB)
The benefits of Arts in Corrections: literature review    (WORD 858 KM)

The Walls Came Down evaluation

18 February 2021
Research article The Walls Came Down, published in the US Justice Evaluation Journal (2021, examines quantitative data about the emotional and psychological impact that Arts in Corrections has on prisoners. Authors Danielle Maude Littman and Shannon M Sliva evaluate a range of artforms across several US prison sites. Findings highlight the importance of arts programming, how it can improve interpersonal relationships and enhance the culture of each site. Read the article

Arts, Culture and Innovation in Criminal Justice Settings report

5 February 2021
This research report from the UK   Arts, Culture and Innovation in Criminal Justice Settings, was published in 2016 by the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance. It contains practical information and ideas, using research evidence and case studies to demonstrate the need for quality arts programmes in prisons and how they can be used to improve outcmes for prisoners. Read the report

Power of music podcast

7 September 2020
Warren Maxwell is a musician and founding member of Trinity Roots. He is also a senior lecturer in the School of Music and Sound Production at Massey University, Wellington, and was involved in Songs From the Inside, a New Zealand television series based around music mentoring with prisoners. In this podcast, he discusses the healing power of music. Listen to the podcast 

New book about theatre in prison

30 April 2020
Imprisoned people all over the world are staging theatrical productions that enable them to express their humanity and capabilities. Prison Theatre and the Global Crisis in Incarceration examines performances in prisons and looks at the ways that arts practitioners and prisoners use theatre to build communities, attain professional skills, create social change and maintain hope. Ashley Lucas' writing is a mix of storytelling, performance analysis, travelogue, and personal experience as the child of an incarcerated father. The book will be released in September. Pre-order a copy  

Action needed to improve youth justice system

27 January 2020
Children and adolescents detained in the youth justice system experience poor health across a range of complex physical and mental health disorders, according to new research conducted by the University of Melbourne, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and the University of Sheffield. Researchers examined the health of detained adolescents from 245 peer-reviewed journal articles and review publications. They found that detained adolescents have a significantly higher prevalence of mental health disorders and suicidal behaviours than their peers in the community, along with substance use disorders, neurodevelopment disabilities, and sexually transmitted infections. Read more

New book about performing arts in prisons

1 November 2019
A new publication, Performing Arts in Prisons, explores prison arts in Australia, New Zealand, the United States, the UK and Chile. It includes a chapter by Jacqui Moyes, former Arts in Corrections Advisor at Arts Access Aotearoa. Jacqui says: “There have been dramatic changes in public and political thinking since 2014 when we came together for the conference that initiated this book. This book documents the diverse landscape of performing arts in prisons around the world.” For more info and to purchase a copy

Online Evidence Library

The Evidence Library is an online library housing the key research and evaluation documents on the impact of arts-based projects, programmes and interventions in the criminal justice system in the UK. It is managed by the Arts Alliance, a coalition of arts organisations working in the criminal justice system. Visit the website and search the sections for the evidence you want.

Community Research

Community Research gathers research about New Zealand’s tangata whenua, community and voluntary sectors. Current topics range from advocacy to arts and culture, crime and safety, disability, law and justice, research and evaluation, and Whanau Ora. It aims to provide a hub for iwi and community organisations to share their knowledge and advocates for good practice community research methods. Visit the website

They're Our Whānau report

29 October 2018
They’re Our Whānau
 presents findings from research conducted by ActionStation and Otago University on Māori perspectives and solutions to New Zealand’s justice system. The research compiles the perspectives of more than 900 Māori survey participants, seven experts through interviews, and a literature review. For more info

Report on youth offending

1 July 2018
This report is the second in a series of discussion papers exploring factors that have led New Zealand to have a high incarceration rate. The first report, Using evidence to build a better justice system: the challenge of rising prison costs, covered factors related to incarceration rates and the costs of incarceration. This second report explores factors that are particularly relevant to youth offenders (up to age 25 years). Read the report

Professor Sylvie Frigon: a research profile

17 April 2018
Sylvie Frigon is a Canadian writer and Professor of Criminology at the University of Ottawa. On sabbatical in early 2018, she spent two months at the University of Victoria in Wellington as a visiting scholar in its Institute of Criminology. Her main research areas are women in prison, and issues such as employment, self-mutilation and conjugal homicide. Read more about her research and publications

Clean Break's Theory of Change report

18 December 2017
Clean Break Theatre Company has recently published Theory of Change, which aims to demonstrate a clear link between its activities and the impact of its work with women. Its work takes place in women’s prisons, theatres, community settings and in its London studios. It was developed over several years through a process of workshops and discussion with staff, and feedback from women who participate in the programme. For more

Role of support workers

19 April 2017
As part of Sound Connections’ "Taking Off" research, the Irene Taylor Trust in the UK was commissioned to explore the role of the support worker when delivering music projects with young people in challenging circumstances. This action research details approaches to the role through interviews with professionals in the field and young people with direct experience of the Irene Taylor Trust’s Making Tracks music project. Read the research

Irene Taylor Trust music research

30 March 2016
Founded in 1995, the Irene Taylor Trust in London aims to “deliver innovative music projects enhancing the rehabilitation and education of prisoners and in doing so enable their reintegration into the community”. In February 2015, Artistic Director Sara Lee was awarded a travel fellowship by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust to travel to the United States and Norway to research the role that music plays in resettlement and crime prevention. Read more about the trust and download Winston Churchill Memorial Trust travel fellowship report

Research on women and re-offending

30 March 2016
Understanding what drives the cycle of compulsive behaviour when they re-offend is one of the things women in prison want from a rehabilitation programme, says a report called  Women's Experiences of Reoffending and Rehabilitation. The research report was written by Marianne Bevan, Research Advisor, Department of Corrections, and Nan Wehipeihana , independent research consultant.Read more

Research on performing arts in Australian prisons

27 November 2015
Performing arts have become a growing worldwide presence in prisons over the past 30 years, attracting academic and media attention, says a summary report on research conducted by Griffith University in Queensland, Australia. The report, Captive Audiences: the impact of performing arts programs in Australian prisons, discusses the myriad forms of performing arts projects in Australian prisons and points to the lack of research documenting these projects. Read more

Impact of Holyoake's DRUMBEAT Programme

25 April 2015
DRUMBEAT (Discovering Relationships Using Music – Beliefs, Emotions, Attitudes and Thoughts) is an evidence-based intervention developed by the Holyoake Institute to improve mental, social and emotional wellbeing in high-risk populations. This report discusses the research on the DRUMBEAT programmes in seven Western Australian prisons: for example, Bunbury Prison, a maximum security prison for men, 183km from Perth. Read more






Chris Ulutupu
CHRIS ULUTUPU: Chris is Arts in Corrections Advisor, Arts Access Aotearoa (T: 04 802 4349 E: Chris works from Monday to Wednesday. More about Chris
READ: Chris' latest blog, Valuing indigenous art practice in Arts in Corrections

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