Jail House Blues
Recently, Charlene Leistman, Director of Operations at Pre-Trial Services Corp, contacted Talker of the Town to present publicly for the first time a montage of the dozen or so beautiful murals decorating the walls of the Center for Community Supervision and Diversion.
Pre-Trial Services is a private, not-for-profit whose mission is to provide quality intervention services to individuals accused of crimes in Monroe County. These services include risk assessment, community supervision, diversion, and STOP-DWI sentenced programming.
I first met Charlene through the work her programs do with troubled youth, some of who are similar to those I met through my time at the RCSD.
One of the most important populations that PTSC interacts with are young adults ages 16-21; kids that have found themselves involved with the legal system, have dropped out of school and have little direction. This programming focuses on needs such as completing their education, finding employment, or changing their thinking to increase personal responsibility while holding them accountable to the court process.
As Charlene explained the program she told me some uplifting stories of young people who have been able to turn their life around. Many have returned to school or completed their education and gone on to obtain employment. Most importantly, they remain out of the criminal justice system.
As for the murals, the original grant originated in 2000 when PTSC received an Arts and Culture Council Grant to bring art classes, music, and local artists to the then Day Reporting Center to work with the clients to develop the murals. The result is what you see today. The works, entitled, Arts and Crafts Class, Mastermind Murals, 1-03-03 include Dazz Man [trumpet] Queen Goddess [singing], Freddy’s Revenge [trumpet], Poor Boy Ray [clarinet], Show Stoppers [with King Blow], and Jail House Blues [saxaphone].
The project very much became a kind of occupational therapy. Clients relished the chance to beautify their surrounding by doing something positive and productive. The most powerful of the murals are depictions of clients expressing their feelings though music and song or are set in situations — like jail — clients had experienced themselves.
But the murals are hardly a downer. Quite the opposite. In celebratory vivid colors, they span a panoramic range of topics, from the streets of Rochester to Niagara Fall to a panel looking into deep space and out at the Solar System.