Macquarie Correctional Center inmates pull out the Lonely Road CD | West Central Daily

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During his first training to become a corrections officer, Anthony Ferret was asked if he had any additional skills he would be willing to share with inmates. For him, he said it was his love of music and audio. Macquarie Correctional is a maximum security prison, famous for its cell-free approach. It uses unique techniques to build respect between staff and inmates and ultimately reduce recidivism. Inmates at the center are either hand-picked or, in some cases, volunteer to be housed in the facility. As part of the prison approach, the center has created a music program, which helps inmates focus on prosocial activity while building self-esteem. Mr. Ferret was able to use his skills as a skilled sound engineer to help inmates express their creativity, increase their skills and ultimately build their self-confidence upon release from prison. “Inmates are very musical, it’s often their debriefing.” “When you’re stressed, what is your relaxation? You listen to music, when you’re having a moving moment, you listen to songs that relate to what you’re going through.” Mr. Ferret also helped put together an inmate band, the Green Mile Express, which recorded a number of original songs. The Lonely Road CD – released last year – contains 11 original songs, each written and recorded by inmates. The group plays a mix of hip-hop, rock, reggae, soul and folk and is made up of various inmates, who Mr. Ferrett said each brought something unique to the sessions. He said the songs each had a story to tell and could often be heard on Wellington’s community radio station, Binjang. “The beauty of this music for inmates is not just a debriefing for them to share their experiences, stories and frustrations,” Mr. Ferret said. “But you hear some of the songs – one of the songs over there is written by a person who will never get out of prison, he’s got a life sentence.” It’s a song about how he’s going to deal with the madness of knowing that. You don’t think about that, I didn’t think about that until I listened to the song. It is deep content. “The entire album was created inside the prison, including the CD artwork which was also painted by the inmates of the center. For Mr. Ferret, the musical program is a safe space, which allows inmates to admit and be open to mistakes in a healthy way. This positive environment in turn helps to reduce criminal attitudes and behaviors for life on the outside. “If they play and make mistakes, that is not frowned upon. So it’s good that they can admit they made a mistake without fear of reprimand, because I’m sure a lot of them have been through that in life,” he said. “J ‘hope they can learn that this is how life is too, and admit mistakes, knowing there is no shame in them.’ Mr Ferret said he encouraged a high level professionalism with inmates when creating music, which in turn helps to instill these characteristics in their personal attitude and behavior throughout their daily interactions. . Of the program, he said the inmates had wanted to make plus, with one asking to start a choir. Mr Ferret said what started with four people has now grown to 20. “You certainly see this rehabilitation, especially in the area of ​​music, ” he said. He said the prison has now partnered with the Conservatory of e music from Bathurst to help expand their program. The goal is to release one album per year.

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Jack L. Goldstein