Prisoners have been deliberately alienated as a result of the criminal acts they committed, and their alienation frequently outlasts their sequestration in prison. Even in systems that seek to promote family contact, some deleterious effect is hardly avoidable if the sentence extends beyond a few months.
Central to this thinking is the presumption, that long and life term imprisonment greatly damages people: suffering is ‘inherent’ to ‘the deprivation of liberty’; the ‘detrimental effects of imprisonment’ are presumed to occur, especially through a loss of ‘self-respect or sense of personal responsibility’ due to incarceration. It is from this awareness that the idea that prison should provide systems that offers opportunity for inmates to learn how to take decision, learn to utilize arts as a creative channel for communication and expression, and make valuable use of their time, which is itself one of the essential advantages of this creative program, EXPAR Project.
Arts and cultural activities have been found to be particularly effective in supporting a prisoner’s personal and cognitive development. There is evidence that these programs improve personal and social skills, develop self-confidence and encourage participation in future learning.
Furthermore, arts and cultural programs can be effective in supporting the rehabilitation of a prisoner and can aid the reconstruction of his or her relationship with society. They can help to reduce the detrimental effects of life imprisonment. They can also be particularly effective as a way of engaging prisoners who are disaffected by the educational process through non-traditional teaching material and teaching methods.
Many prisoners undertake combinations of formal education or training of varying duration and work during their prison sentence. Some prisoners also have to undertake court-mandated courses such as programs for substance abuse, sex offenders or anger management. But most of these programs focus on inmates on short-term parole, it aims at remanding prisoners for a better reintegration. While it is assumed that allocation of services to long-term and life term inmates is wasteful because the group has lower chances of reintegration.
It is against this backdrop that we seek to use arts to improve the prisons condition, and the psychological well being of inmates on long-term and life-term imprisonment, which will be a sustainable social improvement in Nigerian Prisons, Starting with Agodi Prisons, Ibadan.
We hope to operate this program every year and expand the ‘EXPAR’ project to other parts of the Country, Africa, and the World.