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Criminal Justice

New guide launched today at annual meeting of the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance (NCJAA) It’s a guide for working in criminal justice settings.

New guidance for working in criminal justice settings

Arts Council England (ACE) has published a report entitled Arts and culture in health and wellbeing and in the criminal justice system: A summary of evidence. Citing nearly 200 sources, it provides an overview of the existing evidence base and highlights areas for new work and ways to move towards a rounded evidence base. The report is the final piece of research conducted as part of ACE’s evidence review for its next 10-year strategy.

Click here to read more:

What does success look like for arts in criminal justice settings?

The latest issue of the HM Prison Service’s peer review journal is a special edition which focuses on The Arts in Prison. Edited by Dr Michael Fiddler and National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance steering group member Alli Black, the 239th edition of the Prison Service Journal contains 10 articles and evaluations that show a partial snapshot of the vital and important work being done in the arts both within and outside prisons. It highlights the power of this work to transform the lives of those involved

The rehabilitative prison: Good engagement with the voluntary sector This new ‘Do It Justice’ guide provides prison governors and staff with practical guidance on effective engagement with voluntary sector organisations to support rehabilitation within a reformed prison estate. It builds on positive experiences and suggests practical actions that can foster a more co-ordinated approach to partnership work, such as having a named co-ordinator for the voluntary sector in the prison, including the voluntary sector in prison meetings and facilitating skill sharing between prison staff and the voluntary sector.


Arts Council England has published its strategy for 2020-30. Clinks and the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance (NCJAA) are delighted that, following their recommendations, it identifies the criminal justice system as a key community partner for delivering its long term goals.

Titled Let’s Create, the strategy determines Arts Council England’s role as a national development agency for arts and culture and sets out its approach to advocacy and investment over the next 10 years. The strategy is designed to achieve Arts Council England’s vision of a “country in which the creativity of each of us is valued and given the chance to flourish, and where every one of us has access to a remarkable range of high-quality cultural experiences.”

Jessica Plant, Director of the NCJAA, said:

We hope that significant recognition of the criminal justice system under “cultural communities” will ensure the benefits of creative activity are felt by people in prison and probation settings. We also hope that this work will bring these settings to the attention of wider communities, changing public perceptions about what people in the criminal justice system can achieve and enhancing arts and culture for all.

The strategy emphasises outcomes for people and communities throughout, and we very much welcome the acknowledgment that creative activity supports mental health and wellbeing and helps to build and strengthen social ties.

Arts Council England will publish its first Delivery Plan in Spring 2020, which will detail how it intends to deliver the strategy for the first three years. The recommendations made by Clinks and NCJAA included a commitment to partnerships in criminal justice settings to build on the expertise of the NCJAA network, and a specific focus in the delivery plan “on children and young people in, or at risk of entering, the criminal justice system as a group who deserve fair and equal access to arts and culture.”

Jessica Plant added:

Arts Council England has long supported innovative work in the criminal justice sector. In addition to funding a range of projects, approaches and organisations over a number of years, in 2019, it worked with the NCJAA on its Ban the Box campaign and the year before, published Arts and culture in health and wellbeing and in the criminal justice system: A summary of evidence. Last week, NCJAA Development Officer, Rebbecca Hemmings, visited HMP Thorn Cross alongside a team of Arts Council England health and criminal justice staff champions.

We are delighted to see this level of commitment from Arts Council England to understand the challenges of delivering arts in criminal justice settings on the ground, and look forward to working with them to bring the new strategy to life over the next 10 years.

Read more here:


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Baim, C. & Brookes, S. & Mountford, A. (2002) The Geese Theatre Handbook: Drama with Offenders and People at Risk Waterside Press
Bergman, J. and Hewish, S. (2003) Challenging Experience: An Experiential Approach to the Treatment of Serious Offenders Oklahoma City: Wood ‘n’ Barnes
Bernardi, P. (1992) Improvisation Starters Betterway Books
Boal, A. (1995) Rainbow of Desire London: Routledge
Boal, A. (1992) Games for Actors and Non-Actors London: Routledge
Brandes, D. & Phillips, H. (1979) The Gamester’s Handbook Hutchinson
Fine, N. & Macbeth, F. (1992) Playing with Fire Youth Work Press
Johnston, C. (2010) Drama Games for Those Who Like to Say No Nick Hern
Johnston, C. (1998) House of Games Nick Hern
Johnstone, K. (1981) Impro London: Methuen
Poulter, C. (1987) Playing the Game 1 & 2 Macmillan
Rohd, M. (1998) Hope is Vital – Theatre for Community, Conflict & Dialogue Portsmouth NH: Heinemann
Balfour, M. (ed) (2004) Theatre in Prison – Theory and Practice Bristol: Intellect Books
Fraden, R (2000) Imagining Medea: Rhodessa Jones and Theater for Incarcerated Women The University of North Carolina Press
Gladstone, P. & McLewin, A. (2000) Arts on the Out – The On Road Guide to Arts Opportunities for Ex-Offenders Canterbury: The Unit for the Arts and Offenders Publications
Kershaw, B. (1998) Pathologies of Hope in Drama and Theatre. Research In Drama Education Vol. 3, No. 1
Peaker, A. (2000) Handbook for Artists – A Practical Guide to Working in Prisons Canterbury: The Unit for the Arts and Offenders Publications
Scott Douglass, A. (2007) Shakespeare Inside: The Bard Behind Bars Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd.
Tannenbaum, J. (2000) Disguised as Poem – My Years Teaching Poetry at San Quentin University Press Boston
Thompson, J. (1998) Theatre and Offender Rehabilitation: Observations from the USA Research In Drama Education. Vol. 3, No. 2
Thompson, J. (2000) Critical Citizenship: Boal, Brazil and Theatre in Prisons Annual Review of Critical Psychology 2000
Thompson, J. (1999) Drama Workshops for Anger Management and Offending Behaviour London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers
Thompson, J. (ed) (1998) Prison Theatre: Perspectives and Practices London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers
Trounstine, J (2004) Shakespeare Behind Bars: One Teacher’s Story of the Power of Drama in a Women’s Prison The University of Michigan Press
Williams, Rachel Marie-Crane (ed) (2003) Teaching the Arts Behind Bars Northeastern University Press Boston
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Boal, A. (1999) Legislative Theatre Routledge
Boal, A. (1972) Theatre of the Oppressed London: Pluto Press
Cohen-Cruz, J. & Schutzman, M. (1994) Playing Boal: Theatre, Therapy, Activism London: Routledge
Department of Culture, Media and Sport (1999) Policy Action Team 10: A Report to the Social Exclusion Unit: Arts and Sport
Goldstein, A. (1999) The Prepare Curriculum – Teaching Prosocial Competencies Research Press, Illinois, USA
Jackson, A. (ed) (1994) Theatre in Education London: Routledge
Jennings, S. (1986) Creative Drama in Groupwork Winslow Press
Johnston, C (2006) The Improvisation Game Nick Hern Books
Kershaw, B. (1999) The Radical in Performance London: Routledge
Kuziakina, N. (1995) Theatre in the Solovki Prison Camp Harwood Academic Publishers
MacDougall, J. & Yoder, P. S. (1998) Contaminating Theatre: Intersections of Theatre, Therapy and Public Health Northwestern University Press
Matarasso, F. (1997) Use or Ornament? The Social Impact of Participation in the Arts Comedia
Meadows, M. (2010) Insider Art A & C Black
O’Toole, J. (1992) The Process of Drama London: Routledge
Oddey, A. (1994) Devising Theatre London: Routledge
Read, A. (1993) Theatre and Everyday Life London: Routledge
Somers, J. (ed) (1996) Drama & Theatre in Education: Contemporary Research North York, Ont.: Captus Press
Taylor, P. ed (1996) Researching Drama & Arts Education: Paradigms & Possibilities London: Falmer Press
Winston, J. (1998) Drama, Narrative and Moral Education London: Falmer Press
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Christie, N. (1994) Crime Control as Industry London: Routledge
Curran & Renzetti (eds) (1994) Theories of Crime Allyn and Bacon
Downes, D. & Rock, P. (1988) Understanding Deviance Clarendon
Foucault, M. (1977) Discipline and Punish London: Penguin
Garland, D. (1990) Punishment and Modern Society Oxford: Clarendon
Graef, R. (1993) Living Dangerously. Young Offenders in their Own Words Harper Collins
Hollin, C. (1990) Cognitive-Behavioural Interventions with Young Offenders Pergamon Press
Matthews & Young, J. (eds) (1989) Confronting Crime Sage Publishers
Mawby & Gill (1987) Crime Victims Tavistock
McGuire, J. & Priestley, P. (1985) Offending Behaviour: Skills & Strategems for Going Straight Batsford
Merrington, S. (1998) A Guide to Setting Up and Evaluating Programmes for Young Offenders ISTD Press
Morrison, B. (1998) As If Granta
Priestley, P. (1999) Victorian Prison Lives: English Prison Biography 1830-1914 Pimlico
Scraton, P. Sim, J. & Skidmore, P. (1991) Prisons Under Protest Open University Press
Stern, V. (1987) Bricks of Shame London: Penguin
Stern, V. (1998) A Sin Against the Future: Imprisonment and the World London: Penguin
Walker, N. (1991) Why Punish? Oxford University Press
Whitfield, D. (ed) (1991) The State of the Prisons London: Routledge
Therapy Back to the top
Carrell & Laing (1992) The Special Unit, Barlinnee Prison: Its Evolution Through its Art Third Eye
Cox, M. (ed) (1992) Shakespeare Comes to Broadmoor London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers
Jennings & Minde (1992) Art therapy and Dramatherapy: Masks of the Soul London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers
Jones, P. (1996) Drama as Therapy: Theatre as Living London: Routledge
Karp & Holmes (ed) (1991) Psychodrama: Inspiration and Technique London: Routledge
Landy, R. (1993) Persona & Performance London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers
Liebmann, M. (1996) Arts Approaches to Conflict London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers
Moore, P. (1997) Therapy for Groups Arena
Rose, S. (1998) Group Therapy with Troubled Youth London: Sage Publications

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Some of my top Liberation/Inspirational tracksBack to the top

Johnny Clark – Declaration Of Rights

Sorry – Tracy Chapman

Bob Marley – Redemption song

Sounds of Blackness – Black Butterfly

Soul II Soul ‘Keep On Moving’

McFadden and Whitehead Ain’t no stopping us now

The Jacksons – Show You The Way

I got the power – Snap

Young Disciples ‘Apparently Nothing’

Buju Banton – Up ye might race

Any Fela Track

Mos DEF-There is a way

Nas: I Can

McKoy ‘Fight’ – conscious, uplifting soul music

Aswad ‘Back To Africa’

Aswad ‘Three Babylon’

Steel Pulse ‘Ku Klux Klan’

Angie Stone – Brotha

Bashy ‘Black Boys’

Des’ree “i Ain’t Movin”

Arrested Development – Revolution

Public Enemy – Fight the Power

HKB Finn ‘Don’t Give Up the Fight (Sisters)’

Gabrielle ‘Ten Years On’

Say it Loud I’m black and I’m Proud – James Brown

The Crown – Gary Byrd

People Get Ready – the O’Jays

Warrior Charge – Aswad

Say I’m your number one – Princess

Lonnie Liston Smith – A Song For The Children

Queen Nefateri – The Word

Roy Ayers – Africa Center of the world

King Sun – Be Black

Stevie Wonder – Black Man
Eddy Grant ‘Give Me Hope Jo’Anna’ – rare cross over political song!

Tashan – Blackman

Noel McKoy – Family
Labi Siffre ‘(Something Inside) So Strong’ – The more you refuse to hear my voice
The louder I will sing – word!

Tashan – Save The Family
Lonnie Liston Smith – Give Peace A Chance
Krs One -Ya Strugglin (featuring Kwame Toure Sample)

Queen Latifah- U.N.I.T.Y

Boogie Down Productions- Why is that

Common – Song for Assata
Quotes Back to the top

If we are to heal the individuals and the communities who have been excluded and left behind, we need to recognise the vital role that the arts can play in regenerating communities and engaging young people, and Tony Cealy’s work should definitely considered for inspiration and strategies to achieve this.

It’s an electrifying experience to watch drama engaging people who have experience nothing but powerlessness in their lives. Because it’s accessible it offers a language by which young people can bring their anger to the surface. Since this country followed America down the path of doubling our prison population, drama is one of the few things that can bring a humanising influence, dialogue and learning into our prisons, giving prisoners the chance to escape the deadening experience that our under-resourced prison service offers them.

Tony Cealy’s work empowers young people by relying on them rather than teachers to find a role that allows them to express their anger, escape their alienation and help see the creative capacity in themselves and those around them. Tony’s work offers invaluable ways for artists, teachers, workshop leaders and activists to better use the arts to empower young people and reduce social exclusion.

Paul Jenkins Staff Training and Development Manager Nacro London

Your commitment to changing the lives of young men here at Lambeth YOT is impressive. The varied workshops, courses and productions clearly contributed to reducing re-offending, addressing resettlement needs and reducing risk. I would have no hesitation in recommending Tony Cealy

Lambert Allman head of Lambeth YOT Area Manager

We have worked together with Tony Cealy for many years. He is able to engage with offenders in a creative and imaginative way, using drama to recreate experiences and teach new ways of behaving. In this way he encourages responsibility and enables offenders to experience and understand the consequences of their actions, and so add value to the programmes we run.

John Platt, Head of Learning & Skills, Thorncross YOS

Involvement with Tony Cealy has had a positive effect upon all those involved. The young people have been enthusiastic in all the elements of each project they engaged in. They have all developed new skills, increased personal confidence and been awarded with nationally recognised accreditation, as well as gaining peer acknowledgement and encouragement”.

Nadie Bell Quality Auditor Unitas (Summer Art College)

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