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California has been a leader in prison fine arts programs. Arts-in-Corrections, the granddaddy of them all, enjoyed a highly successful 30 year run until its closure in 2010 as a result of the state's budget crisis. This study evaluates three demonstration projects modeled after AIC, and prison theater programs offered through The Actors' Gang's Prison Project and Marin Shakespeare. Inmates from San Quentin, Soledad, New Folsom and CRC, Norco state prisons participated in the study. Pre-and Post surveys designed to measure changes in attitudes and behavior were administered at the start and finish of each 12-week arts program. The surveys included attitudinal scales adapted from the "Life Effectiveness Questionnaire" (LEQ) measuring: time management, social competence, achievement motivation, intellectual flexibility, emotional control, active initiative, and self-confidence. In addition to positive correlations between arts education and life effectiveness attitudes, we found a reduction in disciplinary reports and greater participation in academic and vocation programs. This study supports the findings of other prison arts evaluations in this country and elsewhere.


This article was published by the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, and is available at: