When I ask the warden if it’s okay for me to interview one of the boys, he goes and comes back with Michael.
Michael is a 17 year old boy who speaks perfectly English and who is the lead singer of the choir. He is in prison now for 15 months and will be released next year’s may. “Life is very hard”, he says. “It’s hard to even describe how it is cause there are many problems each and everyday.”
Having seen the prison myself, I have no trouble believing him. “The food is not good and the cells are overcrowded”, Michael continues. “The biggest challenge?” he repeats my question. “This”, he says and he shows me his hands. I see that his hands are covered in a kind of rash, and it almost looks like there are small white holes in his knuckles. “They call it prison decease”, he explains me. “We get it because the cells are too overcrowded. They are really painful.”
Micheal tells me how happy he is with the workshops Young in prison and Music Crossroads offer them. He started with dance and HipHop classes and is in the choir class now. “Time goes by so much faster this way”, he says. “It’s hard to stay strong sometimes but there’s gonna be a time where I’m gonna be outside.”
When I ask him what he will be doing when he will be outside, I see his eyes lid up. “When I’m out I will go back to school. I want to finish my education and become a journalist.” “What about the first day you’ll get out?” I ask him. “The first day I’ll get out I will go home and enjoy with my relatives. Next day on the weekend I will ask my father to throw a party for me. We’ll celebrate with my friends. And a lot of food.”