Our Voices Count: The Potential Impact of Strength-Based Music Programs in Juvenile Justice Settings
"There are more than two million youth in US juvenile corrections, 95% of whom have been detained or arrested for non-violent crimes. In fact, the United States incarcerates more youth than any other developed nation and for longer periods of time with no evidence that these efforts at correction make a difference...in the face of these sobering facts, many states and cities are seeking to reform their juvenile justice systems in ways that focus on a more positive, strength-based approach that addresses the current needs and future potential of the young people whom such systems should serve, not merely sentence...Increasingly, arts organizations have stepped forward to act as partners in bringing postive youth development projects to juvenlie justice settings...However, given the small numbers of self-selected participants without comparison or control groups, the reliance on qualitative measures, the widespread use of self-report data, and the short-term nature of many of the projects, the results fall short of what public agencies require in order to recognize programs or strategies as evidence-based and thus worth supporting with public dollars or applying widely in programs designed to rehabiliate young people.
"In the spirit of building the needed evidentiary base, this study reports results from a collaborative project between the Administration for Children's Services (ACS) in New York City and Carnegie Hall's Musical Connections program that addresses some of these design challenges" (Palmer Wolf & Holochwost 2).
"...the work reported here suggests that activities like ensemble music-making may allow youth to discover and act on their strengths. As one choir member admitted, 'I had fear in my heart, but I had to sing through it.' Correspondingly, it is time for cultural oranizations and researchers to match that bravery by developing robust strength-based programs, along with the research designs and measures that will help to articualte if, why, and under what conditions arts recognize, build, and sustain young people's talents and resources" (Palmer Wolf & Holochwost 5).