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Lance Duncan picks okra during a harvest session Friday, August 20, 2010 at the organic garden created by inmates and staff at the Travis County Crorrectional Complex in Del Valle. Duncan was enthusiastic about the garden and said he has been involved with organic vegetable gardening for a couple of years and plans to grow an organic vegetable garden after his release.

Organic gardens, indeed gardens of any sort, are not uncommon now in prisons of every state. They are, however, used sparingly at only the lowest security facilities. Rikers Island has a program, as do prisons in Washington State. Keep your eye out for more.

Before this post by The Austin American Statesman, I wasn’t aware of the program at Travis County Jail, Texas. Incidentally, Travis County also welcomed Billy Bragg and the JAIL GUITAR DOORS initiative at this years SXSW, which donates guitars to correctional facilities.

JAIL GUITAR DOORS, headed by Billy Bragg, is a program that bring musicians and instruments to prisons in the UK. Thanks to a conversation between Bragg and the superintendent of Travis County Correctional Complex, JAIL GUITAR DOORS expanded its program into American jails.

Bragg and Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine among other musicians played live and collaborated with inmates at the Austin jail. The theory is one of music therapy. Bragg left six guitars inside the institution.

Bragg began JAIL GUITAR DOORS in 2007 naming the program after The Clash song of the same title. Since its inception, 32 prisons and more than 300 guitars have been part of the program.

Listen to the full story on NPR, visit the website for JAIL GUITAR DOORS, link up on the JGD’s Facebook page and a bit of local news here.


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