Corcoran State Prison, CA—In this tough prison there are few bright spots. Charles Manson, Sirhan Sirhan and many other convicted criminals who have committed despicable crimes wait here to simply die.
Most other inmates will quickly get out and the rate of return is astronomical. Of course they destroy lives along the way. Our correctional institutions do anything but correct. They are almost all, in reality advanced schools of crime and violence.
We have locked up millions of young people in what we call correctional institutions. We demand they turn their lives around but have made that daunting task impossible. Perhaps it’s because we place them with one another where they can form peer groups of despair, destruction and depravity. This concept can only fail.
Most of these convicted losers come from ignorance, poverty and are raised by the worst mentors society has to offer. We only make things worse for them.
I have no magic cure for the drug addicted but for others we can reclaim lost and stolen lives. We can do this with the resources we already have.
To succeed in society we all need skills. What prisons offer can barely help people obtain and keep the lowest paying jobs. Criminal records will keep them from conventional employment because nobody wants to take unnecessary risks by hiring felons.
Entertainment provides thousands of jobs and felons can get work there if they obtain skills and can behave themselves. We don’t perform background checks on the people making CD’s, DVD’s and working the nightclub entertainment circuit. The only thing that counts is if they can take the rest of us on that special ride.
Prisons have the talent to do this but it’s the ineffective losers who run them that are barely superior to the inmates. The talent for this already lies within their walls.
Musical genius Phil Spector is rotting in the California prison system. He has no choice, but the people housing him do. They can give Spector a few perks, equipment and let him bring musical skills to fellow prisoners. This man made many millionaires out of everyday people wandering through New York’s Brill Building.
I’d start, The Phil Spector School of Rock. I’d first make a call for musical instruments to be donated. I’d create a magnet prison for inmates statewide that want to learn music and let them earn admission through good behavior and motivation and inclination.
Phil Spector could be convinced to become the dean of this venture because he is qualified and all too available. We need not guess that Spector has his own needs for creativity too.
Imagine for a moment the implications of such a venture. Students learning, great music and a soon there’d be weekly TV broadcast like Austin City Limits from a prison! Along the way how many lives could we save? How many fewer murders, robberies and violent crimes would be stopped because inmates develop a new passion other than crime?
What we are doing now is pure failure. What do we have to lose by trying this? After that, Drama, Dance and Comedy schools could emerge from inside every prison in America. We can make great things happen if we at least try.