This Side Of Life is a country rock band formed by four inmates currently serving life sentences in a maximum security prison. They have been given special permission to record their music and distribute it via the internet. This is part of a unique pilot program to help rehabilitate some of the country's most dangerous criminals who up to now have been segregated from other prisoners and kept in continual solitary confinement. Maximum security prisons are extremely controversial and there are claims that the living conditions in such facilities violate international law with their “cruel and unusual punishments” and “inhuman and degrading” conditions. Prison officials have been accused of chronic abuse and the neglect of prisoners, many of whom have serious mental health problems.
I was born no good
Knew it as a baby child
Left out in the cold, alone and hungry
I just ended up running wild
I grew up angry and I grew up mean
And I grew up feeling mad
Seemed my life was always empty
Trouble was all I had
When you don’t know how to love
And you don’t know how to feel
You don’t give in to no one
And you take what you can steal
So finally they tried to teach me
Told me not to break the rules
Said, “You gotta work hard if you wanna be something”
But I told them, “You’re a bunch of fools”
Cos I was born no good
And maybe I’m going nowhere
And maybe my life’s not worth the trouble
And maybe I just don’t care
Cos I was born no good
And nobody’s who I am
And maybe I’ll never amount to nothing
And maybe I don’t give a damn
Music therapy programs are now used extensively in prisons as part of the rehabilitation process. Advocates of these programs point to the therapeutic nature of music, the positive outlet of energy and the stimulation of the creative processes as reasons to support the continuation and proliferation of music therapy. Music programs emphasize cooperation and provide a skill that can be used outside of prison - if not as a source of income, then as a productive hobby.
Music programs have traditionally been offered in all kinds of facilities, from lower-security to maximum-security prisons. These sessions include music lessons, playing and performing in groups and the opportunity to make recordings or perform live on radio and television. Some bands are allowed to travel outside the prison to perform. Others are limited to performing inside the institution for their convict peers only. Instruction varies from hiring professional music instructors to volunteers and prisoner teachers. Music programs can be part of larger overall arts programs that include theatre, dancing and painting, while sometimes they are part of other self-help groups organised by the prisoners themselves.
Supporters of art and music programs believe that such classes restore a sense of humanity and safety that is vital to rehabilitation. The sense of completion and of contribution to the creation of something that society values can help inmates increase their self-esteem and recapture a sense of pride and satisfaction in themselves and their work. Other benefits can include relearning responsibility and discipline through individual and group practice and performance.
These programs have also been shown to reduce repeat offending rates. They provide an alternative to traditional education classes to which inmates who have had negative experience with schooling in the past may be averse. The open structure of these programs also helps them bring together diverse groups of individuals from different racial, ethnic, geographical and social backgrounds into a harmonious cooperative atmosphere. Music programs have even been used as a form of psychotherapy to develop the relationship between the therapist and the client. Therapists believe that music particularly helps those individuals who would otherwise have a difficult time communicating and expressing themselves.
Born No Good (c) 2012 Steve Nielson All Rights Reserved