Christmas Carolers Sing to Baltimore’s Incarcerated Population

Christmas Carolers Sing to Baltimore’s Incarcerated Population

While Baltimoreans were commuting from work, flooding malls and shops for last minute Christmas gifts, and spending time with their families, one group reached out to a special population.
   On Wednesday, December 22, 2010 around 5pm, a group of Christmas carolers stood before the Baltimore City Detention Center (BCDC), singing songs to the incarcerated.
   Armed both with sheets of Christmas lyrics and layers of clothing to protect themselves from the freezing cold, the group sang at three locations around the facility located on Fallsway in East Baltimore.
   “The Christmas season is about compassion for all our fellow human beings, including those who are behind bars,” said caroling participant Laurie Bezold, of the nonprofit fiscal sponsorship organization Fusion Partnerships, which organized the rally. “Baltimore City cares about its incarcerated residents, and this holiday event will give people a way to show that.”
   Typically BCDC holds from 3,600 to 4,000 Baltimore citizens at one time, with 35,000 housed in the jail in one year. Approximately 90 percent of residents are pre-trial defendants, waiting for their court date.
  “Though they are caged in like animals it was my attempt to help them to feel a human element,” said caroler Suzette E. Jones.
   Tracy Velázquez works for the Justice Policy Institute, a Washington, DC-based think-tank committed to reducing society's reliance on incarceration.
   According to their research, incarcerated persons who stay connected to the community while incarcerated do better after release.
   “Bringing some Christmas spirit to people in the jail through events like caroling is a way to help them feel less separated from society,” said Velázquez. 
   The group of carolers that ranged in age, race, income levels, and political persuasion, even vocal talent, expressed their commitment to Baltimore inmates. Jones encouraged others to follow suit.
  “Nurturing galvanizes self-confidence and healthy self-esteem, making a person whole, and when you feel whole, you do positive wonderful things,” said Jones. “Every clock moves forward, as does life continue, therefore no one should be forgotten.”