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The California arts-in-corrections music programme: A qualitative study

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The California Arts-in-Corrections (AIC) programme was one of the first prison arts programmes in the nation. In 1983, this author conducted a costbenefit study of the programme and found it to be cost-effective. Twenty-five years later, this article reports the findings of a qualitative evaluation of the AIC music programme through in-depth interviews with ex-offenders who were students in the programme. The six men interviewed are a diverse group as measured by race, age and crimes committed. They self-reported that AIC taught them a disciplined, focused work ethic, leading to enhanced self-esteem, and it changed their experience of doing time. Four earn a living through their art, and all self-identify as artists. AIC helped to bridge the racial divide and provided a safe haven in an otherwise hostile environment. In a few cases their art helped them to reconnect with family.

Keywords: doing time; music; prison art; race; self-esteem; work ethic

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of San Francisco.

Publication date: March 1, 2010

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