Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?

Our mission is to reverse the trend of mass incarceration in Colorado. We are a coalition of nearly 7,000 individual members and over 100 faith and community organizations who have united to stop perpetual prison expansion in Colorado through policy and sentence reform.

Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.

If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

DJs in Buena Vista play for a truly captive audience - The Denver Post

DJs in Buena Vista play for a truly captive audience - The Denver Post

Carlos "Mr. Floppy" Rodriguez gazes through a window out beyond the razor-wire fence at cars whisking by and imagines that the drivers are bursting out laughing at his radio repartee.

The hip-hop prison DJ (doing nine years for escape) is actually cracking jokes in between songs for a truly captive audience at Buena Vista Correctional Facility. Rodri guez rattles off mock Coca-Cola advertisements and sometimes does it all in Spanish.

He is learning how to be a DJ in a unique radio-broadcasting program at the Buena Vista prison. Though he once believed his role in life was set in steel-reinforced concrete, he now dreams about ruling the airwaves.

The trouble is, making it big inside the Big House has yet to lead

to real-life DJ jobs at top-40 radio stations for hundreds of paroled convicts who have been enrolled in the program the past 21 years.

Promising talents like Rodriguez often can't get to the interview stage at a radio station after disclosing their criminal background.

Kevin Messick, director of the Buena Vista radio program, knows what it takes to make it in the real world after working as a DJ for several years at radio stations from Neillsville, Wis., to Amarillo, Texas, including KIKX in Colorado Springs.

"Some of these guys have such a gift of gab," Messick said. "There are guys who are very talented. I don't think employers even give them any consideration after learning their background."

Messick applied in 1989 for the job as an instructor of the radio program.

He teaches college-level broadcasting courses that are transferrable to Colorado Mountain College in Glenwood Springs. His students can earn 30 college credits.

Whether Messick's inmate students ever land a job in radio broadcasting or not, he said he believes they learn valuable lessons in class.

"Many of them never had a job before that they had responsibility for," he said. "Here, if they don't show up, they get fired. We try to clean up their profanity."

Students tape radio spots for class credit in six studios, and the programs are later played on the prison's two stations.

"It sounds like it's live," Messick said.

He said the inmates learn how to write and make commercials, and they do research about artists they play.

They have much of the same equipment as at radio stations.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

AND ... CDOC says they are working on informing the public concerning the hiring of *forever* felons. I think not. I've been attending the DOC meetings in Denver for a few years and what has progressed? Not much in the way of gainful employment, rent and blatant discrimination from the ill informed communities.

Talent is wasted. Many of those in prisons have immense talents. I'm certain quite a few have greater talents than those who are simply overseeing the deceptive CDOC and staff.

"Dance is part of rehabilitation at Phillipine prison." (New York times article.) - January 15, 2008

As family members of the "Thou Shalt Not Judge" hypocrisy, we can fully comprehend the machinations of the American prison system. It takes courage and honor to change a corrupt system. What are the odds that we will have men and women with honest intentions for positive changes (CDOC) come forth? Divine providence?

Quote: "Garcia also fired dozens of jail guards for corruption, installed an enhanced security system, broke up gangs, banned guns and the use of cash (opening bank accounts for inmates) and enforced an exercise regime that in the past year evolved into dance classes.

Garcia said that what had been weekly outbreaks of violence have subsided, inmates' health has improved and recidivism rates are down dramatically."

Dancing to "Thriller" has received over 10 million views by January 2008. It's amazing to watch. Not only are these guys proving they are creative, this boosts self-esteem. It isn't constant badgering and tolerating tyranny from guards and staff, as it is, unfortunately, in the U.S. Reading further in this article, a private prison in the U.S. has offered Garcia a job here, but he has turned down the offer. I can only guess why that is. His days of providing inmates with accomplishments would be over and he knows it.

So. Why not give these folks a chance at radio? My bet is on these guys and gals. They have been through the worst with their experiences. Accepting their talents would present us with the best.