Second Shot Productions at HMP & YOI Doncaster
I have long been of the opinion that the arts have a role to play in the rehabilitation of offenders but until Second Shot came to HMP & YOI Doncaster I had no idea just how central that role could be.
The average stay at Doncaster is just 12 weeks, and many aren’t here long enough to engage in the traditional offending behaviour courses. For them a short theatre project that explores the issues that cause their offending behaviour or brings them closer together with their children, can be just what’s needed to trigger the start of a new way of thinking. If you add to that, the feeling of belonging that comes from forming part of a team and the positive self esteem generated by creating something, you have started to generate conditions that are conducive to change.
For those prisoners who work fulltime for Second Shot, it has provided structure, discipline and new skills. It really is like walking into a professional production company, with job roles and deadlines and a code of conduct. The professionalism of the prisoners involved is second to none, and seeing them creating their films instils me with a sense of hope for their future beyond Doncaster, which for some will be in the fields of arts and media. For others, the skills learnt will be transferred to other industries and professions. For some, getting up in the morning and being on time for a job and expected to work a full day has been a new experience and one that could prove to be the start of things to come.
Some people who run prisons believe that the arts have no place there and my response to those people is – you simply haven’t seen it done right yet! Look beyond your preconceptions and indeed your former bad experiences and don’t rule them out as a weapon in your reducing re-offending arsenal. That said, tasking one of your less busy tutors with the job of developing such activities in your prison is to completely misunderstand how complicated and difficult they are to execute effectively.
Second Shot’s staff are highly trained and very experienced. If you’re going to do it, do it right!
John Biggin, Director, HMP & YOI Doncaster