The stage is primed for a more substantial conversation about what’s not right with our criminal justice policies, the media’s role, and the humanity of inmates. Inmates with Talent is a new film created by Johnny Collins and Joel Jerome which utilizes a creative approach to inspire hope and second chances.
Johnny Collins and Joel Jerome are two friends and stand-up comics who got the idea to add prisons to the long list of places they had performed. Their project morphed into something edgier and more political when, as the website for their project explains, they “began to visualize a prison showcase that features a lineup of both established comedians and talented inmates”. Johnny and Jerome where given unprecedented access to over 2,000 inmates as well as getting a celebrity endorsement.
What resulted was Inmates With Talent narrated by celebrity rapper and actor Ice-T, and they are aiming for either a tv or cinematic release. The project asks timely and thought-provoking questions such as “Could a career in comedy…help rehabilitate some offenders? Can entertainment be used to ease tensions in the prison system?”
Bringing the arts into jails and prisons isn’t new. A 2005 film called Shakespeare Behind Bars documented a now twenty-year-old program giving Kentucky inmates the chance to act in classic drama in effort to find a kind of redemption in the fine arts. By all appearances, Inmates With Talent is taking a more populist approach focusing on inmates’ native talent not only in comedy, but singing and spoken word poetry.
A lot of the men who participated weren’t just interested in creative endeavors as a professional move, they also hoped to use their talents as a tool to keep others from treading the same path to incarceration they did. Many emerging from incarceration express a wish to offer this gift to their communities, but many of them do not have viable platforms to use their experiences to deter others on the prison pipeline path.
The criminal justice system gives a lot of lip service to making ex-cons into productive members of society -a phrase with a lot of baggage that could use unpacking- but little thought is spared for allowing people to have rich and fulfilled lives after incarceration. Inmates with Talent is reminder that people need more than a low-wage job if we are to claim rehabilitation is a way back into a livable life. The brightness of humanity shines more brightly when we have access to the fulfillment and enjoyment the arts can provide.
The popularity of well-established of shows like America’s Got Talent and American Idol suggests there could be a sizeable audience for projects like Inmates With Talent. With approximately sixty hours of footage already developed, there is a lot of potential here for a combination of entertainment and important social commentary to occur. Measures such as California’s recently passed Proposition 47 suggests there is some movement in the right direction in criminal justice reform, and a show like Inmates with Talent could very well be the moral arc bending public opinion towards justice for society’s forgotten.
Connect With SWHELPER
Good Mental Health Equals a Happy Marriage
Happily married couples enjoy better mental health status, according to researchers. They fall sick less often, have fewer instances of...
The Woman Beside Me – Living in the Era of Trump
At the gym, MSNBC plays on my treadmill monitor. Coverage of the shootings in El Paso and Dayton have been...
The History of Stereotyping Homelessness in Australia
The history of homelessness in Australia stems back to our nation’s colonization by our British counterparts which moved Indigenous Australians...
Examining White Privilege: What’s the Fear?
Dickinson student Leda Fisher asks the question “Should White Boys Still be Allowed to Talk?” in her opinion piece in...
Mental Health3 months ago
6 Tips for Navigating Political Discussions at the Holiday Table
Food3 months ago
An Overabundance of Fast Food: Food Swamps Are the New Food Deserts
Aging3 months ago
Loneliness May Be Due to Increasing Aging Population
Health3 months ago
Regional Trends in Overdose Deaths Reveal Multiple Opioid Epidemics, According to New Study