Incarceration and Creative Expression: Why prisons should increase access to art materials for incarcerated people
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AbstractUnderstanding and conveying ideas about ourselves is something that makes us fundamentally human. Our identities are defined by the "cooperatively authored world" in which we live: the stories that we share and the people who listen to them shape us (Stauffer, 2015, p. 32) Studies have shown that the ability to express oneself promotes internal growth, human connection, empathy, and greater respect for one another. In carceral settings, where basic human rights are stripped away, creative expression is critical because it injects human dignity into a space where it does not exist otherwise and promotes rehabilitation for inmates. Providing greater accessibility to art materials and prioritizing creative expression within prison would benefit both incarcerated people and the prison system as a whole. I will add to the existing scholarship on this topic by analyzing contemporary examples of creative expression in prisons and outlining ways to safely integrate arts programming into the Virginia Department of Corrections. [From Introduction]
Laura Calhoun is a member of the Class of 2020 of Washington and Lee University.
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