100 signatures reached
To: Justice Minister Chris Grayling
Save Prison Arts
We call upon the Ministry of Justice to recognise the value of prison arts, ensure that arts materials and equipment are available to prisoners and provide personal development and arts courses across the prison estate.
Why is this important?
In November 2013, a Prison Service instruction removed metal stringed electric and acoustic guitars from the list of permitted prisoner possessions. https://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/offenders/psipso/psi-2013/psi-30-2013.doc At the same time, access to arts materials for purchase by prisoners has become more restricted by the limited items available through approved suppliers. And when an order is placed, the delay in receiving materials is often protracted. One of the effects of linking prison education funding to vocational targets is the loss of much of the non-accredited arts programme; dramatic arts have particularly suffered. Prison staff are often not sensitive to the value of creative art work to prisoners and have removed art and writing from the possession of prisoners without explanation.
These are not isolated events but are indicative of the need for the Ministry of Justice to reconsider the value of the arts in prison. Prisoners are full of creativity. You only need to look at the success of the Koestler awards to see that. But many prisoners actually rely on their creative outlets just to cope with life. There are many recent studies which have shown how participation in the arts can be a life-changing experience for prisoners. Not only do the arts support prisoner welfare but they can also provide a pathway to change, enabling growth of self-esteem and helping to combat depression. In this respect, the arts should be seen as a cornerstone of the rehabilitation process.
The people who are most affected by these changes have no voice. Prisoners are unable to sign this petition or campaign for change. But you can. Please do. You can make a real difference to their lives.
"I've had a guitar in my cell ever since my first days in custody and it really helps me cope with my sentence. It's a really creative and educational outlet. I'm still improving and I've even written my own compositions. I don't know what I'll do when they take it off me. It's going to leave me feeling very down. There are a lot of poor copers in prison. What are we supposed to do?” Nathan, HMP Wakefield
Further discussion of these issues by a serving prisoner: http://adammac.co.uk/2014/02/20/arts-under-attack/
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