Common recently made some celebrity prison visits in California. At one prison, CIW, he dedicated a very moving performance to a long forgotten inmate. He called her “a Girl named Red.”
The conscious Hip Hop artist spent a week sharing his sweet music with the staff and inmates at four CDCR prisons:
- Calipatria State Prison (CAL)
- Ironwood State Prison (ISP)
- California Institution for Women (CIW)
- California State Prison-Los Angeles County (LAC)
But, Common’s celebrity prison visits were more than just musical. He spent several hours speaking with women and men inside the California state prisons.
The poet heard about their life stories. He also inspired both staff and inmates, and talked about how to continue expanding the critical rehabilitation process.
Partners Who Supported Common in His Prison Tours
The star didn’t make the visitation alone. He teamed up with:
- The Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC)
- Scott Budnick, Friend & Founder/President of ARC
- California Endowment
While at the California Institution for Women (CIW) in Corona, CA, Common’s team advocated for forgiveness.
The rapper met women who sought not only forgiveness for their wrong deeds, but also to forgive those who hurt them.
One woman, nicknamed Red, shared her lifetime battle of trying to forgive her entire family.
— COMMON (@common) August 30, 2017
Who Is the Forgotten “Girl Named Red”?
Red was incarcerated since she was 17-years-old. She was lost, and even her family forgot her entirely. The young woman inmate says that no one tried to ask her why she did what she did, or tried to help her turn away from her criminal life.
Therefore, Red had to learn how to change by herself. In fact, she says that people were just trying to prove her wrong when she wanted to change. The CIW inmate says her family doesn’t care so much about her. She even shed tears up in appreciation of Common’s celebrity prison visit.
The Girl Named Red says the prison visit from Common means the whole world to her. Red’s story so touched Common that he mentioned her name during his performance at CIW. After the show, the inmates got a chance to talk to the performer before his departure. A lot of women really appreciated his visit and his conscious-minded performance.
Many explained that it gives them hope as they feel there are people outside caring for them. Others said that it gave them another reason to live (some were in tears). Another incarcerated woman said that she is happy to know that people still believe in them. The CIW inmate feels it’s good that people can find it in their hearts to give them another chance despite what they did.
Reason Why Common Toured California Prisons
Mr. Budnick has been a fan of Hip Hop artist Common for years. He has been working in the rehabilitation industry for many years as well. In 2013, Budnick founded the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) to provide reentry services for current and formerly imprisoned people. It does so by:
- First preparing inmates to reenter the society
- Continuing to support them while they’re outside
- Employment assistance
ARC also empowers those affected the criminal justice system (both victims and offenders) to get restorative justice.
Common’s songs and prison visits were intended to pass the following message to his audience:
- Bring hope
- Bring peace
- Nurturing productive inmates when they reenter the society
Common spoke about the need for unity across all racial lines. He also challenged the inmates to build up one another irrespective of race.
The star and his team also toured the Ironwood State Prison (ISP) Last Mile computer science program. This facility enables inmates to learn advanced computer coding. They also toured at Youthful Offender Program (YOP).
YOP allows eligible youth inmates from Division of Juvenile Justice to move to lower security-level prisons. The entire idea is aimed at giving them an opportunity to be mentored on how to stay positive.
Common’s celebrity prison visit was about remaining positive, even when you are incarcerated. He, therefore, challenged them to make the right choices for their self-betterment.
Video: Common’s “Hope & Redemption Tour”: A Girl Named Red
She was caught up in a prison system that caared nothing about her. It seemed like she’d been all but forgotten. That was, until she met Common in her Corona, CA prison. Not only did he inspire her, he touched the hearts, minds and souls of all the women of CIW.
Watch the video below as Common performs at CIW. He dedicated performance to the “girl named Red” at the California Institute for Women. It was uploaded to YouTube by TrackRecord.