HUTCHINSON, Kan. — The Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC) celebrated Re-entry Week July 10-14 with open house events, culminating with concerts by country music celebrity Mark Collie Friday at the Hutchinson Correctional Facility.
The event at HCF was one of nine prison facilities and seven parole offices across the state that spotlighted the evidence-based work done by staff, contract providers, volunteers, mentors, and community partners, which has led to a reduction in recidivism in Kansas from over 55 percent to 35 percent.
“I believe in second chances,” Collie, a singer, songwriter, documentary filmmaker (The Mountain), and actor (Nashville), whose interest in offender success has led him to do music therapy with offenders in prisons, said. “That’s why I’m so excited to share a message of hope with offenders.” Guitar in hand, Collie strolled down runs of cells in the Hutchinson prison singing “Lean on Me,” “Amazing Grace,” and some of his personal hit songs.
“Today more than ever, offenders are leaving prison with more preparation, job skills, pro-social supports, connection to services, and a continuum of care,” KDOC Secretary Joe Norwood said. “This leads more offenders to a law-abiding life, increases their chance of success, increases public safety and results in fewer victims.”
Corizon Health, the provider of health care to KDOC offenders, connected Collie with KDOC and sponsored his visit. Corizon Health’s CEO Karey Witty said Collie’s music therapy is something his organization is exploring.
Collie shared his stories about his connections to prisons and re-entry, including his friendships with Johnny Cash, who gained acclaim for his performances in prisons, and with Merle Haggard, who found direction while incarcerated at San Quentin prison in the late 1950s.