To provide musical equipment and instruction to incarcerated youth.
It is a well known and lamentable fact that the United States leads the world in incarceration. With over two million individuals currently behind bars, our prison system’s population outnumbers the total population of 80 different sovereign nations. Over 500,000 youth serve time in the juvenile court system per year, oftentimes due to decisions made because of poor access to education or the pressures that arise from poverty. Studies have consistently proven that once incarcerated, it is common for youth to find their way back into the prison system.
Though our jails claim to be rehabilitative, they often lack the funding to be more than keeping zones. Furthermore, studies have shown that youth are exposed to a number of violent and detrimental behaviors within prison that can further damage their psychological condition and inhibit their ability to succeed upon release. After their time in prison, youth face even more obstacles. Because of their records and the stigmas attached to them, youth have even fewer opportunities for employment than before. Upon release, youth are forced to navigate the same environment that initially led them to criminal behavior, now with even more burdens.
The focus of Beyond the Bars is to help provide a space both inside and outside prisons where youth can gain a creative outlet, which will give them both a skill and a means of expression. Youth who participate in Beyond the Bars will have access to musical equipment and an instructor who will work with them as they learn how to perform and compose music within a band context. The targeted age group for Beyond the Bars is 14-18 but will continue to expand over time. It is at this age where adolescents struggle with how to express and define themselves amidst societal pressures. By having musical instruction and positive relationships with the instructors, youth involved in Beyond the Bars will be better prepared for the world outside the bars.