Texas Radio Program Helps Relieve Harshness of State Prison System

Every Friday at 9 p.m., thousands of prisoners across East Texas settle into their bunks, pull out their hand-held radios and tune in to The Prison Show, the only radio show in the country that caters to prisoners and the families they’ve left behind, NPR reports. The program, hosted by former inmate David Babb, has tried for decades to relieve the harshness of the Texas penal system, which leads the U.S. in executions and has the largest state prison population.

It’s run by a group of Texans who have set out to change the public’s perception of prisoners by emphasizing that inmates aren’t animals; they’re fathers, husbands, sons and daughters. The show broadcasts from KPFT in Houston, a nonprofit Pacifica Network radio station. Its first hour offers news and talk about Texas prisons and courts, but it’s perhaps more famous for its second hour, in which relatives of prisoners can call in live and deliver messages to their loved ones. The Prison Show is run by volunteers like Storey Jones, who helps screen calls. Jones is married to an inmate and is in law school. “I am not soft on crime,” Jones says. “But to [the prisoners], the show just shows that there [are] people out here supporting them, loving them; that they’re not forgotten and that we do want them home. And they see that there are still connections and I think it gives them a little hope.”

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