KVMR in Folsom Prison?
It all started in August 2004, when a KVMR listener heard a message-in-music on the Friday early-morning show "Universal Tapestry" hosted by Cheri Snook. The song that spurred Dr. Jaime Wiedell to contact Jim Carlson, Arts Facilitator for the "Arts in Corrections" program at CSP-SAC New Folsom Prison, was "Medicated Family" by Buddy Tabor, an Alaskan artist featured often on Universal Tapestry. Within a week of hearing the song and with the help of Cheri Snook, Buddy Tabor had been invited to perform for the Arts in Corrections class. The subsequent concert was a great success, and was covered by KVMR's News and Public Affairs Director, Mike Thornton.

Little did anyone know what that early-morning phone call would lead to, but communities have a way of coming together once doors are opened. A collaboration has since blossomed between KVMR and the prison, thanks to the facilitation and outreach work of producer Cheri Snook and the advocacy of Jim Carlson. In December, Cheri produced the first-ever recording of the inmates' performance of the story of the life of Christ, featuring all-original songwriting by inmate Marty. KVMR aired this groundbreaking program "The Road, by the Men in Blue" on Christmas Eve 2004, which was well-received by KVMR listeners that evening. Part 2 of "The Road" was presented on Easter Sunday (March 27, 2005) on KVMR. Cheri has also produced a number of live performances at the prison, beginning with Buddy Tabor, and including Flowmotion and Kimberly Bass. Plans are in the works to bring Grammy award-winning Mary Youngblood into Folsom for a performance and flute lessons.

With the permission of the Administration of CSP-SAC, the poetry of some of the inmate participants has been documented and shared with the public on KVMR. The poetry classes continue to expand into a living, breathing program with assistance of local poets Loraine Webb, Grace Totherow, and others.

Ninety percent of our prison population will re-enter society. Research conducted by the California Department of Corrections indicates that prisoners involved in on-going arts programs show a seventy to eighty percent reduction in violent and disruptive behavior while in prison, and are sixty-nine percent less likely to return to prison once released. And, while there is institutional support for the Arts in Corrections program, it has been de funded statewide. Artists must participate in a volunteer capacity. Statistics aside, our human community will do well to acknowledge prisoners beyond the numbers. In Lights On in the House of the Dead, Daniel Berrigan, a Jesuit Priest who served time in prison because of his anti-war activities during the Viet Nam era, writes: "It remains important that prison be regarded as a boot camp for spiritual change."

Many thanks go out to Jim Carlson, Fred Schroeder and Warden Kearnan at the prison for their support.. to Cheri Snook of KVMR.. to all of the wonderful local artists who have taken the time to participate in this unique program.. and above all to the inmates, who have shared their hearts and souls with the KVMR community. Community radio has a special ability to reach out through the airwaves and inspire human connections, and KVMR is proud to provide a voice, and an ear, for men often forgotten behind walls of stone and razor wire.

Folsom Prison Easter show on KVMR An upbeat toe-tapping, hand-clapping Easter concert that features original music about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ was aired 2-5 p.m., Easter Sunday, on KVMR Radio (89.5 FM). Seven inmates at the facility created the concert, which was recorded live by KVMR March 13 in the prison's chapel. A collaboration between the radio station and the prison has evolved, with KVMR broadcasting the first-ever recording of the inmates' performance of the story of the life of Christ on Christmas Eve 2004. The station's broadcast producer Cheri Snook has also produced live performances at the prison with local musicians. In a release prepared by KVMR program director Steve Baker, it said that statistics show that prisoners involved in ongoing arts programs show a substantial reduction in violent and disruptive behavior while in prison and have less recidivism.

Letter from the prison

“There is definitely a 'force of good' happening here within these walls that is transforming convicts lives and allowing us to grow together through our work and prayers into a real micro community of all races being in harmony with in certain spaces that are safe to do so, yet that translates back out through each individuals life into the daily walk and into the world. Day by day step by step. Eventually humanity may heal all the wounds and one love may reign but it begins at home inside us all. Within these cages men are offered a new way those ready are taking it up, those not quite sure are witnessing the changes these men are living happening, to them and they too step up! One life at a time, and the world remade. I state that with belief for living here within the “cities of a worlds shadow”-thieves, murderers, dope dealers, junkies and hustlers all caught in the wrong place at the wrong time & falling into the cracks of a system that swallow them up- these human beings are awaking from a life battered, bruised, used, lost, thrown away neglected, tortured, hated, rejected-“access denied in life!” These people I am witness to a rebirth into new lives into through grace, forgiveness, love and life from their desire to feel and be renewed to be some use in life other than perpetrating cycles of death. I see people of different race & gang connecting and finding common ground and through it is a mere fraction of the population- it begins-and grows!

Thanks to the Arts in correction and community radio and KVMR for lending a ear to brings the sound of music and real people to us all. Making changes in society for a people in the humanverse.”
CSP-SAC

Danny