Exclusive: Music therapy returns to Rikers Island

Teachers collaborate with voluntary detainees to create songs and music to help them express what they are feeling.

News 12 Staff

Feb 19, 2022, 3:25 AM

Updated 823 days ago

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The music is returning to Rikers Island as part of a program to provide a respite for inmates through song writing, singing and strumming new instruments.
Karen, an inmate, says the music is a blessing. She sang and played instruments Friday. She says it makes the inmates feel free and normal.
"We're not trying to create professional musicians necessarily," says Jessie Kilguss, executive director of Musicambia. "We're trying to give people opportunities to develop self-confidence or develop a safe community within a really scary environment."
Teachers collaborate with voluntary detainees to create songs and music to help them express what they are feeling. Teaching artist Patricia Santos says it helps the inmates feel human.
The group running the event at Rikers says after reports of inhumane and unsafe conditions at Rikers, it's nice to bring some positivity to the inmates.
"From what I understand the situation is very tough and so you know any little ray of sunshine that we can bring in to help brighten their day a little bit," says Jeremy Jordan, a teaching artist for Musicambia.
The Department of Corrections program coordinator says it would be great to have more resources to allow them to expand programming in the future.


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