April 28, 2011
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Contact: Gretl Plessinger
|Spirit FM Broadcasts live from|
Zephyrhills Correctional Institution
On Thursday, 4/28/2011, history was made at Zephyrhills Correctional Institution. We hosted a live radio broadcast from within prison walls. This is historical in that this is the first time the Florida Department of Corrections has allowed such an event.
WBVM Spirit FM 90.5 radio, broadcasted its “Big House Morning Show” live from the institution’s Chapel from 7:00am to 9:00am. This radio station has wanted to do this for a very long time. They were very interested in providing a true perspective on what life is really like behind prison walls. They were also interested in what programs are provided to inmates to better themselves.
Abby Brundage, the morning show host, began the broadcast by welcoming everyone and she related how excited they were to be broadcasting from Zephyrhills Correctional Institution. The program was segmented into various interviews with the Warden, Chaplain, a Correctional Officer and several inmates.
Warden Gustavo Mazorra was asked how his faith enabled him to carry out his duties as warden. Warden Mazorra related that his faith is very important to him and as a Christian he can better exemplify a positive example for the inmates. He has a vision for this institution which includes positive programming, spiritual enrichment, and other Re Entry programs in order to assist inmates successful transition back into society.
Chaplain Clanton stated in his interview that he knew very early in his career that he wanted to minister to those who are incarcerated. He quoted several biblical verses that indicated through love and encouragement that many positive things can happen and how lives can be changed. He stressed that it is our responsibility to reach out to those in need. He felt that this was a great medium to educate the public on how life is behind bars so a true perspective can be given on what needs are to be met. Chaplain Clanton prayed for lives to be changed, families to be reunited and for society to come together to reach out and help one another. He describes the chapel as “an oasis in the desert.”
Correctional Officer C. J. Dause was asked what it was like to be a correctional officer at a major institution. He indicated that he too is a Christian, and this plays a vital role in carrying out his daily duties. He related that his duties include a variety of tasks such as providing security but he also feels a responsibility to provide positive encouragement to the inmates. He believes that Chaplaincy Services and Re Entry programs are very important in changing lives.
Inmates Jesse Johnson and Nehemiah Parsons were interviewed and were asked some thought provoking questions. For instance, what was going through their minds when they were committing their crime(s), describe what their experience was on the first day in prison, and what has turned their lives around since their incarceration? Two different but similar life stories were shared. Inmate Johnson has been incarcerated for 38 years for a taking the lives of two people and has a life sentence. Inmate Parsons has been incarcerated since 2003 for a robbery charge serving a total of 13 years. Both inmates indicated that their first days in prison were quite a shock (lack of privacy, having to accept being told every minute what to do, when to do it and how to do it). They both related that at the time of their crime, they were self centered and dismissive of others. They have since matured and realized their mistakes and have accepted responsibility for their actions. At no point did they minimize or make excuses of their past choices. They have chosen a path of forgiveness which began with them by accepting God into their lives as their Savior.
|Inmates and staff from Zephyrhills Correctional Institution answer questions from the hosts |
and pose for a picture after the broadcast.
The program included music from Zephyrhills Correctional Institution inmate band, “Chain Reaction,” which was heard live on the radio. This band is instrumental in providing worship within the chapel through their music, song and praise on a weekly basis.
The program concluded with a final interview with Warden Mazorra. The morning show host, Abby Brundage, asked how listeners and the public could assist and provide support to Zephyrhills Correctional Institution. Warden Mazorra indicated that the institution always welcomes prayer, donations of clothes for inmate’s day of release; volunteers to serve and strengthen inmate character through vocational and educational services and occasionally tangible items are needed as well.
Today was a rare glimpse into the world inside the prison walls. A wonderful partnership has been formed between Spirit FM 90.5 and Zephyrhills Correctional Institution. We look forward to a long and productive relationship that will translate into meeting the needs of the incarcerated and assisting them towards a positive Re Entry back into society.
|Front row left to right: Correctional Officer Dause, Radio Host Abby Brundage, |
Station Manager John Morris, and Chief Engineer Chris Sampson
Back row left to right: Chaplain Clanton, Mr. Platt Assistant Warden of Programs
and Mr. Mazorra Warden and pose for a picture after the broadcast.
|More pictures from the broadcast.|