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Utah jail uses rock & roll to rehabilitate

Posted at 10:08 PM, Mar 13, 2022

KANAB, Utah — Music has the power to change our moods and so much more. Now some local inmates are learning it has the power to change lives.

These men are taking a page out of Johnny Cash's book and filling the halls of their jail with music.

“I know that I have a lot of positive influence on the guys here, and I love that. It's pretty rewarding for me," said Aaron Richmond, who teaches the music program.

It's part of a program at the Kane County Jail to help inmates find ways to express themselves.

“You can see a guy come in and sometimes they'll be in a bad mood," Richmond said. "And a little while later, they'll just light up and they'll be feeling it and they'll be positive when they leave."

They get 22 hours a week of what the jail calls "productive time credit" to take this class.

“There's inmates in the back that have amazing talent," Dep. Colton Cram said.

The sheriff recently started the program and put deputies in charge. They monitor the program, and volunteer inmates run the classes — teaching everything from music history to music theory, and beginner to expert instrument classes.

“I get rewarded a lot by just thinking that a lot of these guys can go home and play music for their family and friends, and maybe teach their neighbors or kids how to play music, and something they didn't know before they came in," Richmond said.

Students practice together for months at a time before taking their acts to the stage for their fellow inmates.

“We get to perform these concerts every few months. We'll do Christmas concerts, Halloween concerts, summer and spring concerts," Richmond said.

This program not only helps the inmates learn about music, but deputies say it helps everyone get along better.

“If you get back there and start talking to him with art, like music, talent, all kinds of stuff, it helps develop rapport with the inmates," Cram said. "Kind of helps them realize that the cops are human too, like we realize they're human, too. We don't have to have that wall between us all the time."