The Arts of Desistance: Assessing the Role of Arts-based Programmes in Reducing Reoffending

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Authors:
  • Leonidas Cheliotis
  • Aleksandra Jordanoska


This article offers a critical review of the empirical research literature on the ‘secondary’ or ‘soft’ contributions that arts-based programmes may make to the process of desistance from crime. We begin by focusing on evaluations of arts-based programmes run by practitioners inside prisons, and then proceed to address the effects of arts-based prison programmes after participants' release into the community; a theme that has received very limited research attention to date, and even less attention in extant literature reviews. In the next section of the article, we briefly discuss, for illustrative purposes, our own evaluation of an arts-based programme that is aimed at prolonging and enhancing ‘secondary desistance’ through providing ex-prisoners with opportunities to continue engaging with the arts after release. We conclude with a few short remarks as to the lessons that can be drawn from this article for the design of arts-based programmes in the field of criminal justice.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25
Number of pages41
JournalHoward Journal of Criminal Justice
Issue number1-2
Early online date17 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - May 2016