The Music Business in America’s Prisons

Like everyone else, inmates in America’s correctional facilities enjoy their music.  Spin takes a look at what they’re listening to–and how.  (Thanks to John for the link.)

If you’ve got to go to prison, you could do a lot worse than the Idaho Correctional Institution in Orofino. The 574-inmate facility is tucked into a picturesque valley on the state’s rugged northern panhandle, along the trail once blazed by Lewis and Clark. The thin window slits in many of the general-population cells on the prison’s newest section — called “A Block” — offer views of the surrounding green-brown foothills and pine forests, as well as the crisp rushing waters of the Clearwater River, a world-renowned fly-fishing spot.

Despite its northerly latitude and the snow-capped mountains not too far in the distance, the weather here remains reasonably mild year-round. Minimum-security offenders have opportunities to get outside the 15-foot razor-wire-topped chain-link fences that surround the prison’s perimeter by working on inmate firefighting crews and doing roadwork and construction jobs nearby. It’s also one of a growing number of American correctional facilities where prisoners have access to a digital library of millions of songs.

But make no mistake: This is not some country club for exiled Wall Street barons.

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38542 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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