Exposure to Digital Paintings on Male Sex Offenders’ Attitudes towards Sexual Crimes: Case of Nairobi West Prison, Nairobi City County, Kenya
Crime is an act in violation of the criminal law. Global statistics indicate that sexual offending is among the leading crimes in many countries, with close to one billion people falling victim. The high prevalence of sexual offending is an issue of concern considering the significant negative effects on the victims, their families and the larger society. In Kenya, the high numbers of sexual offending are attributed to re-offending, where previous convicts revert to their criminal behaviour. Whereas global studies estimate rates of sexual re-offending to be as low as 5-25% over periods of 5-10 years, in Kenya the rates are above 40% yearly, leading to overcrowding in prisons. Stiff criminal penalties prescribed against sexual offences and the existing rehabilitation programs have not deterred the perpetrators. This is despite the fact that consequences of sexual offending undermine the fulfillment of the national goals encompassed in Vision 2030, the National Health Sector Strategic Plan II and global development goals embraced in Millennium Development Goals. Arising from this data has been the need to develop offence-focused interventions intended to lower the possibility of re-offending. Unlike Kenya, Canada, Australia and the USA have successfully implemented the use of art-based programmes to minimize re- offending. Attitudinal impacts of these art-based programs among incarcerated offenders however remain largely unexplored. Studies in the cited countries have focused on active participation with minimal emphasis on passive participation, including Mere Exposure. This study therefore sought to examine the place of visual art in reducing cases of reoffending by investigating the effects of exposure to digital paintings on male sex offenders’ attitudes towards sexual crimes. The study targeting incarcerated male sex offenders in Kenya was conducted in Nairobi West prison, a male offenders’ facility in Nairobi City County. A mixed method research approach with a one-group pretest-posttest quasi-experimental design was employed. Sixty-one study respondents were selected by stratified random sampling from male convicts of defilement and rape, aged 18-45 years. The respondents were randomly assigned to two experimental conditions involving viewing the digital paintings in exhibition and via projection in Rapid Serial Visual presentation respectively. An attitude questionnaire was used for pretest and posttest attitude measures, while a five-point Likert scale was used to measure the responses to the digital paintings. A Paired T- Test was used to determine the differences in attitudes towards crime at pretest and posttest. Significant differences were found between posttest1 and pretest (t=-3.117, p-value=0.003) and between posttest 2 and pretest (t=-2.161, p-value=0.035). The R-squared of the regression models linked improved attitude scores to repeated exposure to digital paintings. Regression analysis based on Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) was done and the results showed that painting style (p-value = 0.047), colour schemes (p-value = 0.000) and exposure frequency (p-value = 0.002) significantly influenced the sex offenders’ attitudes towards sexual crimes. The study findings were ultimately used to recommend a model for utilizing digital paintings to foster negative attitudes towards sexual crimes among male sex offenders. This was envisioned to reduce cases of re-offending, decongest prisons and have a large workforce out of prison to drive the government’s development agenda.