Poverty Lab, Crime Lab Storycatchers Theatre's Changing Voices
Court-involved youth see their career prospects severely diminished upon arrest. Not only are job opportunities limited for youth with a criminal record, but recidivism and re-incarceration are common; 86% of youth released from the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice will be re-arrested within three years, and 68% will be re-incarcerated. This population faces a wide variety of barriers to successful reintegration; providing them with the right combination of services is immensely challenging, but critically important. Storycatchers Theatre’s Changing Voices program helps recently incarcerated youth attain long-term employment and self-sustainability by engaging them in full-time work writing, producing, and performing original musical theatre inspired by their personal stories. The Changing Voices curriculum is based on a combination of workforce development and trauma therapy methods. The Poverty Lab and the Crime Lab are conducting an RCT to evaluate the effectiveness of this innovative, multifaceted approach to serving a particularly high-risk population.