Went to a Changing Tunes concert last night. Wow, was it good, and boy, did it reiterate what a mess our prison system is (though I have to say no-one from the organisation was critical of the system per se, it was just apparent in my thoughts afterwards, based on some of the things said and unsaid).
Changing Tunes is a charity that uses music to aid the rehabilitation of prisoners and ex-offenders. That’s how their website puts it. What we saw was a group of fantastic people really touching peoples lives, through sharing their love of music with a group of people many in society want to simply ignore. The staff team of CT played together, along with a few people who have benefited from their work. The standard of music from both staff and ex-offenders was amazing, as are the statistics on re-offending (see the CT website for more on that).
I mentioned “unsaid” things earlier, and here is one of them. This is a charity, run on a tight budget. It reduces re-offending rates significantly. There are similar success stories elsewhere. Yet our prison service still centres around locking people away for years in poor conditions, then disgorging them onto a by-now alien society, and acting surprised when they turn up again fairly soon thereafter having offended again. Isn’t it time we started seriously investing in programmes like Changing Tunes, investing in education in prisons, investing in schemes that help prisoners upon release. Why don’t programmes that show consistently reduced re-offending rates get shouted about from the rooftops and funded to the hilt by the government?
Maybe CT don’t want government funding, requiring that degree of independence (I could well understand that position). Regardless, it just highlights the sorry state of affairs we are in. Prison population is incredibly high, yet we refuse to acknowledge that the system needs radical change if this is ever to change.