LIMON, Colorado (CBS4) – Colorado is now home to the nation’s first-ever prison radio station, statewide, run by incarcerated people. Inside Wire: Colorado Prison Radio launched Tuesday from a studio at Limon Correctional Facility.
The station is a project of the University of Denver Prison Arts Initiative, and its programming is created by incarcerated producers at production studios at three prisons: Limon Correctional Facility, Sterling Correctional Facility, and Denver Women’s Correctional Facility.
The broadcasts are available to more than 14,000 incarcerated listeners at all Colorado Department of Corrections facilities.
“There are so many people on the inside who are on a journey of positive change, and to be able to play a small part in it is truly an honor,” said Ryan Conarro, CEO and Program Director of Inside Wire.
At Limon Correctional Institution, life can be difficult and freedoms limited, but the stories inside these walls are many. For better or for worse, this is a reality that Anthony Quintana has known since 1991.
“I hurt there,” Quintana said.
“I took the life of a man,” he added.
Three decades later, Quintana is on a much different path. On Tuesday, he and a team of incarcerated producers turned on their mics and spoke to every prison in Colorado for the first time.
They call it Inside Wire, an audio broadcast by inmates, for inmates.
“It’s an opportunity to really change the stigma of what prison is,” Quintana said.
“I may not change what people think of me, which is understandable, but I want to live my life in a way that honors the people I’ve hurt, and if I can do that by changing and helping others through this platform and letting them know the paths not to take, I will,” Quintana said.
Tuesday’s launch lasts a year and a half. The shows are funded by DU’s Prison Arts Initiative and aim to build community and purpose.
“It’s such a basic human need to share a story, to feel heard, and that’s been especially powerful as we navigate the pandemic here,” Conarro said.
Now, inmates at all three prisons will broadcast 24 hours a day. Inside Wire’s 24-hour program includes a weekday morning music show, daily announcements and news, and a range of storytelling features, including “Behind the Mic “, “One Tune” and “Wired Up”, as well as the weekly program “Up to the Minute with Dean Williams”, the executive director of the CDOC.
“Today it’s a radio station, but it’s also so much more,” Williams said.
Williams sees the program as a small step towards transforming prisons by making them more humane and intentional.
“There’s nothing good about making prisons tougher than they already are,” Williams said.
“90-95% of the people behind the walls are going to be your neighbors, and you have to decide whether or not it’s in your best interest to treat people like inhuman animals behind the walls when they become your neighbors again. The answer is no, it is not. It never worked in this country,” Williams said.
While many success stories could be months or even years away, the program offers inmates a unique opportunity in a place where they are rarely found.
“I don’t live my life thinking that I deserve anything, but I want to live with dignity that if I have an opportunity and a chance to be back in the world, that’s what I want to live” , said Quintana.
DU PAI plans to increase radio production at more facilities after launch.
Listen to Inside Wire which is also accessible to the public.
This report was originally published on March 1.