California Prison Arts: A Quantitative Evaluation


Research Abstract
California Prison Arts: A Quantitative Evaluation

California has been a leader in prison fine arts programs in the United States. Arts-in-Corrections, the granddaddy of them all, enjoyed a highly successful 30 year run until the state budget crisis led to its closure in 2010. The need for prison arts education is greater than ever, in part because of AIC's demonstrated transformational impact on imprisoned men and women.

The William James Association Prison Arts Project, California Lawyers for the Arts, The Actor's Gang, Marin Shakespeare, and Jail Guitar Doors are California non-profit organizations with experience and a demonstrated commitment, not only to provide art instruction in prisons, but to engage in ongoing evaluation of the impact of these programs on human development. This report presents results from the most recent quantitative evaluation of prison arts education, in collaboration with these organizations, and with the support of the National Endowment for the Arts, the California Arts Council, and the Andy Warhol, Gerbode and San Francisco Foundations.

There is evidence that prison fine arts programs provide authentic learning experiences that engage the minds and hearts of the incarcerated. Prison art program evaluations in the United States and elsewhere in the world have found strong correlations between arts education and improved work ethic, self-esteem, creativity, intellectual agility, motivation, self-confidence, emotional control, and an ability to work with others. Further, interdisciplinary research shows cognitive, social and personal competencies are cultivated through arts instruction and practice. The findings of this research is further evidence of the transformative power of the arts.

This report presents results from a quantitative evaluation of prison arts education.


Larry Brewster, Ph.D.
January 1, 2014