Sunday, January 6, 2013

BBC revisits the dark world of the old Arkansas prison system

Posted By on Sun, Jan 6, 2013 at 8:03 AM

CUMMINS PRISON BLUES: Johnny and June Cash with Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller in 1969. Rockefeller moved to clean up the corrupt and brutal Arkansas prison system.
  • CUMMINS PRISON BLUES: Johnny and June Cash with Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller in 1969. Rockefeller moved to clean up the corrupt and brutal Arkansas prison system. PHOTO CREDIT: UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture

Thanks to KUAR's Michael Hibblen for a good tip on some good broadcasting:

"Johnny Cash and the Forgotten Prison Blues" airs at 2:05 p.m. today on BBC World Service. And you can also play it on the web.

Arkansas native Cash, famous for Folsom Prison and San Quentin shows, is featured for work in prison reform in Arkansas in the first segment:

Presenter Danny Robins uncovers two lesser known but intriguing prison concerts — Cash’s 1969 appearance at Cummins Prison in Arkansas, and his 1972 concert at Österåker Prison just outside Stockholm in Sweden, the only prison gig Cash ever performed outside America.

In Part One, Robins travels to Arkansas, Cash’s home state.

A concert at Cummins Penitentiary, one of the worst prisons in the country at the time, meant so much to Cash that the singer donated his own money to have a chapel built there.

Only a year after Cash’s visit to Cummins, a judge would declare the whole of Arkansas’s prison system to be ‘unconstitutional’ on the grounds it constituted cruel and inhuman punishment.

KUAR has done a piece on the show, which KUAR hopes to get clearance to rebroadcast.

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