Conducting Hope Previous Broadcasts
KQED World: Sat, Aug 23, 2014 -- 2:00 PM
Today, 2.3 million people in the United States - an all-time high - call prison home. Nearly two-thirds of inmates will face re-arrest within three years, and nearly 50% will return to prison. In response to these disheartening statistics, one innovative program in Kansas aims to reduce the high rate of recidivism in an unexpected way - through the power of music.
This program reveals the story behind the East Hill Singers, the only secular prison choir in the country allowed to perform outside prison gates. During the documentary, choir director (and former opera singer) Kirk Carson works tirelessly to prepare the men - minimum security inmates at Lansing Correctional Facility - for an upcoming public performance alongside community volunteers and former inmates. Carson's passion never wavers despite the challenges of turning the novices into concert-ready singers capable of performing a repertoire ranging from traditional choral to contemporary music to a "rap of redemption." For many of the inmates, whose offenses range from drug-related crimes to burglary, rape and murder, the choir teaches valuable real-world lessons about discipline, responsibility and teamwork. These traits, along with a newfound self-esteem, confidence and pride, eventually may ultimately help ease the men's reintegration back into society.