This fall we are venturing into new pilot program in partnership with the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction. Teaming up with a Massachusetts based non-profit, Rawkstars, we are bringing music to 35 young men living within the PACT (People Achieving Change Together) Unit, a specialized program for incarcerated individuals between the ages of 18 and 24.
Rawkstars was founded by Jonathan (JJ) Jacobs, a musician and sound engineer who wanted to provide music opportunities for Massachusetts youth who would otherwise not have access. Whether it is supplying instruments, initiating programs, or in our case, connecting us with the population at the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction, Rawkstars has made a mission out of connecting people through music. It is a vision that aligns serendipitously with ours, so when JJ contacted us with a potential partnership, we were eager to sign on.
PACT is a new initiative, currently in its second year, for individuals who are 18 – 24 yrs old and currently incarcerated at the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction. Living in this unit is voluntary and requires an application process. Young men who join the program are paired with a mentor, and participate in intensive programming specifically designed for this population. The goal of the PACT unit is to focus on rehabilitation and the development of social skills that can help participants once they have served their sentences. On the unit, there is more freedom, with cells open from 7:30am to 9pm. Classes focus on life skills such as budgeting, meditation and mindfulness. There is an emphasis on positive officer and participant relations, interactions and respect, which gives the unit a more relaxed feel.
Maureen Young, MT-BC is the music therapist at Roman Music Therapy Services who will be providing services in this program. The goal of the music program with the inmates will be to develop life effectiveness skills, which include, but are not limited to, time management, social competence, task leadership, and emotional control using music-based programming in order to determine if inmates’ actions, behaviors or feelings shift in ways to make them more successful in managing and succeeding in daily life. Attendance is voluntary, but inmates will be encouraged to choose at least one program to attend each week. The programming will include large group drum circles, smaller groups that may include Songwriting, Lyric Analysis, Singing, Recreative Music Experiences, Improvisation, Active Music Listening, Music and Digital Technology, Music and Imagery, and Music Assisted Relaxation. There is also a music education component provided through Rawkstars that will be teaching other music skills to the participants. A final showcase/performance will be held at the end of the 12-week pilot program with staff, participants and their families.
Bringing music therapy to new populations is something that we are passionate about at Roman Music Therapy Services. We are really excited about this new program and collaboration with Rawkstars and the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction.. We look forward to celebrating creativity, self-expression and music in this environment to support the rehabilitative model of the PACT Program.
For more information about Rawkstars or to donate to support the work of this amazing non-profit, please visit their website.
For more information about the PACT Program, check out this video clip from WGBH.