Inmates Got Talent: Film Features Indiana Prison Talent Show

Redemption Project looks to rehab convicts

By Matt Bartosik
|  Wednesday, May 5, 2010  |  Updated 12:53 PM CDT
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Inmates have talent too.

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Talented entertainers can be found just about everywhere: in a bar, on a street corner, in the subway ... and in a prison?

A new documentary, "The Redemption Project: Inmates Got Talent," features an Indiana prison talent contest that highlights convicts' singing, acting, and comedy routines.

Comedians Johnny Collins and Joel Jerome shot the film over eight days at the medium-security Putnamville Correctional Facility, hoping to help the offenders turn over a new leaf.

"We're not looking to glamorize or glorify the prison experience, or give them extra treats," Collins told WTHR Eyewitness News. "But what we're looking to do is prepare them."

The project seems to have worked.

"We were impressed with the ability of Johnny and his team to get the offenders to open up about their lives, admit to past sins, and in the process find hope to stay on the right path in life," Commissioner Edwin G. Buss of the Indiana Department of Correction said in a press release.

"This film is about redemption. It's a unique documentary that is very entertaining, but also conveys a strong message to encourage offenders to successfully re-enter society," added Doug Garrison, Chief Communications Officer.

So are any of these inmates talented enough to be the next Convict Idol?

"Everybody told me I should be a comedian instead of a criminal," said one inmate, according to WTHR. "And apparently, I ain't no good at being a criminal, 'cause look where I'm at."

Matt Bartosik is a Chicago native and a social media sovereign.

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