The Great ESCAPE

Exploring the Rehabilitative Dynamics Involved in ‘Changing Tunes’

Shadd Maruna, Ph.D. Director, Institute of Criminology & Criminal Justice Queen’s University Belfast

“When you’re playing guitar, you feel like you’re not in prison. Music is a great escape.”

-- Changing Tunes participant Acknowledgements --


JO Cursley

A Narrative-Based Evaluation of “Changing Tunes” Music-based Prisoner Reintegration Interventions:

Jo Cursley, Ph.D and Shadd Maruna, Ph.D.


Jo Cursley

Time for an encore: exploring the symbiotic links between music, forming meaningful relationships and desistance

Jo Cursley, Independent Researcher, South West UK



The importance of meaningful relationships both between offenders and workers and also with those significant others is widely acknowledged as an essential component of desistance. In order to change entrenched patterns of criminal behaviour, it is argued that the quality of these relationships serves to support and validate a pro-social sense of identity. In this paper I develop this thesis further. I explore the impact on participants’ relationships where the process of a music prison project is continued outside prison. Drawing on evidence from the offender and ex-offender based charity Changing Tunes, I argue that the process of making music and performing provides a needed expressive and creative space. Participants discover that being part of this creative and mentoring team, both in and out of prison, enables them to develop an understanding of how to develop and maintain meaningful relationships, thus playing a substantial role in their progress towards permanent desistance.