The women’s prison in Cali is putting the voices of inmates on the airwaves, creating a new internal radio station for the 300 female prisoners.
“FUTURO RM Estereo – the voice of liberty” began as an initiative by five university students from the University Santiago de Cali in 2006. The students interviewed prisoners and discovered that communication was a sensitive subject within the prison.
“When we went to the center, we found that a lot of communication took place through shouting or through notes. We taught the prisoners how to present their own projects through radio, magazines, and music”, said Lina Perez, one of the project coordinators.
Last month, the dream of having an on-site radio station became reality when prison director Claudia Patricia Giraldo secured funding through the mayor’s office to put the voices of the prisoners on the radio.
Futuro RM offer messages of hope to detainees and provides a diverse array of programming. From human rights to salsa, classical, and children’s music to religion, psychology and local talent, the station provides something for everyone.
Family members can leave messages to be played for their imprisoned relatives, and there is a priest who provides programming during the week. A democratically elected human rights committee for inmates reports on respect and human rights laws passed by the UN, while the attorney general’s office gives inmates news about changes in legislation.
Eliana Agudelo is the voice behind the microphone. It is her responsibility to coordinate the show. One of the prison directors brings news from the outside. There are two detainees who sing for the station, and Agudelo also invites former detainees to give testimonies about their lives after prison. There is even an inmate who provides beauty advice.
“Another program we host educates mothers on how to take care of their kids. In the fourth patio there are mothers and children up to three years old. We also talk about human rights and environmental conciousness.” Agudelo said.
There are currently sixteen children under the age of three living in a children’s center near the prison and eight pregnant mothers in the center.
On Agudelo’s desk, there is a stack of handwritten notes to be read on air, messages from loved ones, and tokens of inmates appreciation, including a green ceramic elf statue created by one of the inmates.
The station hopes to one day share their message with the world.