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Common opens recording studio for inmates at Illinois prison

“The gentlemen who are incarcerated deserve access to better things in life,” said the emcee.

Common NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

A prison near Chicago, Illinois is now equipped with a recording studio, thanks to rapper and activist Common. As CBS 2 reported, the “Come Close” emcee blessed inmates at the Statesville Correctional Center with a music studio that is complete with mixing boards, musical instruments, microphones and sound panels. The goal is to create a productive environment for incarcerated individuals to develop new skills as they serve time.

“The gentlemen who are incarcerated deserve access to better things in life so that’s why I fight for my city,” Common said. “And that’s why my heart is always with Chicago. Being from Chicago is one of the greatest gifts and assets to me in my career and my life.”

According to CBS 2, Common’s donation was fueled after a conversation with Attorney Ari Williams. The young attorney reportedly had a vision for the inmates at the Chicago state prison and reached out to the actor with his idea.

“I know music brings us all together. I want them to be OK,” he said. “I want them to do something they’ve love to do. And I know many of them are rappers. They love to rap and they love to sing.”

With the installation of the new recording studio, Common’s Imagine Justice nonprofit will host a 12-week program for inmates at Statesville that will offer them knowledge on music production, music creation and recording.

Per Alyssa Williams at the Department of Corrections, participating in the course may gradually reduce the prison sentences of some inmates. “Everyday they’re in this program [inmates] earn a day credit off of their sentence, as long as the statute allows for that,” she explained, adding that the course ultimately gives those who are incarcerated optimistic thoughts about their lives and their future.

“This brings so much hope for them and inspiration for them,” she said. “Them to know people actually care about them, that can change them as well.”

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