Australia : not everyone's an artist, but all prisoners would benefit from practising art

Do we want our prisons to produce people who learn from their mistakes and who have bettered themselves, or people further damaged by punishment?

The practice of art and the notion of restorative justice and therapeutic jurisprudence in attending to the offending behaviour of convicted criminals is something of a hand-in-glove affair.

In the practice of art, a blank canvas is addressed and accepted in its raw state, is then primed and prepared and taken to task, altering it by strategically applying appropriate forms of medium, in varying techniques with the end result of producing a piece of what society would arguably concede to be “art”.

The key elements to producing that work are (loosely) committing to the process, gathering the resources, setting to the task while accepting that a series of mistakes will be made during the creative process, acknowledging that there will be discomfort and hard emotional realisations in correcting, and more importantly, learning from those events will occur that will forever alter the attitudinal framework and mindset of the artist at hand.

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