In 2007, guitarist/activist Billy Bragg founded Jail Guitar Doors to provide guitars to prison inmates, but that initiative was threatened by a November 2013 ban on steel-string guitars for prisons in England and Wales. Since the ban, prisoners could only rock out in supervised sessions.
However, Bragg—along with David Gilmour, Johnny Marr, and other guitarists—mounted a campaign to overturn the ban, and, as a result, it has been lifted. The guitarists had signed a letter stating that the limitations "undermined rehabilitation," and the government agreed, after feedback from [prison] governors.
However, inmates still have to earn the right to get instruments through good behavior, and individual risk assessments will apply, as well.
"As an incentive to engage in rehabilitation, individual access to steel-strung guitars can really help the atmosphere on a prison wing," said Bragg. "I've had a number of projects involving guitars on hold since the ban, which now will be able to go ahead, and will allow those using music in prisons to get on with this important work."
Jail Guitar Doors is also active in the United States. Read the Guitar Player story here.