Mar 27, 2019
A Rapid Evidence Assessment
Published in: National Offender Management Service (2013)
Posted on RAND.org on March 27, 2019
The aim of the literature review was to generate a detailed understanding of the impacts of arts projects with adult offenders. This included identifying the kinds of changes that arts projects generate, and understanding how they are linked to reoffending and desistance. The review found the following. There is a lack of good-quality research evidence that explores the impact of arts projects with offenders. This is an issue that the wider project will address by providing organisations delivering arts programmes with a framework or toolkit for evidencing the impact of their work. Currently, there is insufficient evidence to conclude whether or not arts projects have a measurable impact on reoffending. The best available evidence indicates that arts projects are effective at improving in-prison behaviour (such as compliance with rules and engagement with the regime) and individual psychological factors (such as depression and a sense of purpose). More tentative evidence suggests that arts projects may be effective at improving educational outcomes and enhancing the effectiveness of offending behaviour programmes. All of these 'intermediate outcomes' can be theoretically linked to reductions in reoffending behaviour. Most relate to criminogenic or protective factors identified widely in the academic and research literature, and hence are likely to contribute to the process of desistance from crime. The research team therefore recommends that these are included as potential measures in a proposed toolkit which can be used by organisations providing arts programmes to measure their activities and impacts.