Reviews and comment from the Demon Crew - creative writers at De Montfort University, Leicester.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Not just a break-time game

admit, my first thoughts when hearing the words 'art' and 'prison' put together weren't all that constructive: more something along the lines of 'they're there to be punished, not to paint pretty pictures,' but Art Alliance (the national body for the promotion of arts in the criminal justice system) proved otherwise.

Prisoners can't just wonder in and out of the system, they have to have a certain level of education, they have to prove they won't drop out after a few weeks, and most importantly, they have to really want to do it. Art in prison can involve up to 6 hours a day (when taking graphic design) and involves prisoners showcasing their work and giving constructive criticism. This helps offenders to communicate better, as well as teaching them other vital skills such as team work and presentation skills.

Throughout the UK there are currently on average 93,000 prisoners, and that's costing the government £42,000 a year. Suffice to say, I came out of that discussion thinking that maybe it's time to drop the law-abiding citizen act and start prioritizing rehabilitation over hard punishment. The three speakers addressed all sorts of opposing views; 'isn't that making prison life easier?', 'why should prisoners have these unnecessary benefits?' Yeah, I was thinking that too, but Art Alliance were adamant that art in prisons isn't simply a break time game, it's a form of therapeutic rehabilitation.

Shelby Paddison

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