M4F responds to the enduring need to enhance
to give meaning to the period of detention
to equip inmates with artistic and technical skills that can be used on the labour market, thereby also contributing to the reduction of recidivism among former inmates; at the same time it is placed in an area of technological and music market development with a new original experience, which can combine the needs of the music production sector with the potential of inmates.
Some general data on the penitentiary conditions
At this very moment, there are 580,000 prisoners in the 27 EU countries
On average, there are 120 per 100,000 inhabitants (in Turkey – partner country in M4F – there are 355), 7% of which are women, 2.5% juveniles (14,000 in the EU), 22% foreigners, about 20% young people under 30, but with large imbalances between countries, especially for foreigners detained.
(Eurostat 2021; European Sourcebook of Crime and Criminal Justice Statistics 2021).
It is confirmed that recidivism is higher for young people in the first year after release and for those who already have a criminal past (Council of Europe, Annual Penal Statistics 2021). The same report unfortunately confirms the overall reduction of funding for alternative measures to detention and for innovations within the prison, the latter aggravated by the stop dictated by the pandemic, which in the last 2 years has slowed down many of the planned educational or so-called “treatment” activities. They would contribute to the rehabilitative function of the sentence to also foster future employability.
Young prisoners who engage in any activity (educational, recreational) are on average 1/5 of the total, and only 3% have opportunities to work for external companies or entities (also outside the prison). Yet, it has long been confirmed that among prisoners who engage in job placement, recidivism drops radically, and this generates a decisive virtuous circle (Harsh or Humane? Detention Conditions and Recidivism, Einaudi Institute for Economics Finance 2014).
If education and work in prison are essential actions to foster the social reintegration of inmates, the project aims to facilitate their activation through the creation of workshops and production spaces related to the artistic world of Hip Hop. This culture has proven to be a powerful means of involvement, awareness, and self-expression for young people with fewer opportunities all over the world and especially for those at risk of deviance, already sentenced or on probation.
Hip Hop Culture
Music For Freedom has at its core some of the disciplines peculiar of Hip Hop culture, which initially represented the artistic expression of African American minorities in the 1970s, then extended to that of Latinos who migrated to the U.S., and then rapidly spread all over the world, attracting everywhere the interest and enthusiasm of young people, especially the marginalised.
Thus becoming, from an instrument of social redemption, one of the main manifestations of global contemporary art with its main expressions: vocal expression – rap – ; the bodily expression – dance, breaking – ; the visual expression – graffiti – and the musical one – DJing –.
For years, these forms have been an effective means of channelling youth distress through the practices of non-formal education; they are also widely used in rehabilitative activities with prisoners even if the context is still experimental, little regulated and left to the availability of individual operators or artists.
An European perspective
The funding of this project represents a great opportunity considering that – with rare exceptions – national public policies in Europe are still a long way from permanently investing funds in structured and lasting programs of non formal education in prison.
Professional training courses are present in many prisons, but since there is a lack of workshops or entrepreneurial investments in the recreational and artistic music sector, the project aims to focus on them to foster the development of actual skills and job opportunities.
The responsibility of equipping, educating, and building bridges with the outside world is delegated to the goodwill of the third sector, the voluntary service. The opening of permanent workshops for musical creation and production inside prisons requires investments in human and material resources that may find an adequate initial response in KA2 funding.