State prison’s new music studio sends message of ‘purpose and hope’


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JOLIET (WEEK) – A well-known musician is bringing prison inmates the gift of music with the blessing of the governor and other state leaders.

Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet now has a state-of-the-art music studio, with all the equipment donated by “Imagine Justice”, a non-profit organization founded by Grammy, Emmy, and Academy Award winning artist, Common.

“I know personally how music can heal and allow the human spirit to be free regardless of your environment. I wanted to offer a world class studio experience to support these residents as they are committed to changing their lives,” said Common in a prepared statement.

“And this is just the beginning,” he added.

There are nine students in the program’s first 12-week course, which includes lessons in song writing, audio engineering, music production.

The course is taught by musician and songwriter Antony Ablan who started a similar program at the Cook County Jail.

“Our mission is to create a world-class studio and music program to facilitate creation, collaboration, and learning,” said Ablan. 

“We have no doubt there are many voices at Stateville that should be heard. So, we’re going to make the space. Music helps us all feel better and be better,” Ablan also said.

Music provides “a sense of purpose and hope,” said Rob Jeffreys, the state’s prison director.

Gov. JB Pritzker also praised the program.

“A truly just justice system keeps us all safer, and thanks to the generosity of Common and Imagine Justice, we’re taking another step to provide more opportunities for education and expression at Stateville,” the governor said.

Each inmate who completes the course will earn time off their sentence, a news release said.

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