Journal Selections from SBB Juvenile participants
“I really am trying to turn my negative attention seeking into positive attention seeking. Life is not only about me. I have to change the way I was abused into not abusing others but loving others. I started to drink alcohol and pop pills to get over the hurt I had all my life. If I change those things into positive things then I can make a change in the world. ““The program was much more than participating in a play. It was about teamwork, perseverance and patience.”
“You are your only obstacle. “
“The program has taught me how to be open to new ways of life, how to work with other people, and how to have self-discipline. What’s more is that it exposes us to more things in life.”
“I really liked the Commissioner coming. He really did have a moving story. I learned that even though you have a rough past you can turn it into a positive future. I don’t have to live negative my whole life… I really do have things to live for besides being locked up my whole life.”
“It’s easy to connect with this character because he becomes banished from society. Being locked up can create this banished feeling within most of us who are in the Shakespeare program.”
“Some things, and people, will have to be left behind in order for a person to reach his/her destination.”
Selections from response letters to juvenile participants from adult SBB ensemble members
“My friend, I believe in you and until you come to see your own value, please know there is a man locked away in a prison in Kentucky that celebrates your life.”
“Do not ever let other people (so-called friends) make your decisions for you. Don’t let the fear of being looked at as weak, square, or a punk be the reason you do anything.”
“Don’t take anything for granted. Every day be the best you can be – a better son, a better brother, even now you have the power to affect people positively.”
“Drugs and the street life don’t discriminate! If you start using drugs and buying drugs, you probably will start selling drugs. If you start selling drugs, you probably will start carrying a gun. If you start carrying a gun, somebody will probably get killed or end up in prison. In my case both happened.”
“In love we tell you that if you don’t learn from our mistakes, you are doomed to repeat them. I will leave you with one last piece of wisdom – Look at your friends. Look at them good. Show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future.”
“As I travel down memory lane, I shake my head in disgust that I allowed others to control my mind and use me as a puppet. The crazy part is, the people that used me are the ones that I thought had my back no matter what.”
“As a man you understand the need to protect your integrity against all the things that will tempt you to lower your standards to the point that you no longer know what you stand for.”
Program Evaluation Results
- Improved grades – 94% of program participants improved their grades/had an increase in grade equivalency over the period of time in the program.
- Improvement in behavior – 50% less critical incidents/write ups for disciplinary action than those not participating in the program
“This program is a life-saving one. It changes the hearts and minds of these young men who are involved. Throughout my teaching career I have provided many wondering learning opportunities and experiences for my students. The Shakespeare Behind Bars program is truly the best.”
SBB juvenile participant written and performed Romeo Rap:
Man, when Romeo got caught up, da Capulet came to ‘em,
brought it to ‘em where dey was brought up.
Dey was looking 4 man ta slaughta, dey try 2 take up 4 Juliet,
but he ‘aint know dat dey was newly weds.
Romeo ‘aint want beef he was cool wit dem,
tells Tybalt wanna try 2 come n fool dem,
but Mercutio new beef, nuttin’ new to dem,
so he start hollin’ bout what he gonna do to dem!
Both dudes tried but one got murked,
Mercutio lyin’ n da dirt!
Romeo’s mind gone plus he cryin’, he hurt.
Mad cuz Juliet had his mind in her skirt,
saw his partna dead now he mad about it,
so dat’s when he had 2 bring dat it savage out ‘em,
dat was his main man wouldn’t die without ‘em,
sad either one of us gonna lie beside ‘em.
Psychological Observation Notes
Meg E. Smedley, Ph.D.
Overall Post-Evaluation Observations
- It was evident at the post evaluation that the group had taken pride in what they had accomplished. They seemed pleased with what they had learned and there was a much more lighthearted and energetic atmosphere in the room.
- There were noticeable changes in confidence overall. The group as a whole held their heads high, made eye contact, smiled more and seemed much more motivated. Previously, people were hesitant to speak up or looked down at the floor but at the final day, participants seemed to want to show off their abilities. They were not embarrassed or ashamed of what they had learned but seemed proud and determined to show their skills.
- Criticism and anger was at a minimum. Although there were a select few still making critical comments, it was often because they felt another person wasn’t trying hard enough. The group appeared more cohesive and less competitive as a whole and much more trusting and friendly with one another.
- Non-verbal communication and emotional expression was much better overall. Affects were fuller in range and moods overall were less angry and hostile. The group seemed more comfortable with their emotions and much less guarded of others.
- Hope- the room in the final evaluation was filled with much more hope. It seemed that the majority of the participants had discovered a relative strength in them and felt better about themselves in general. In the Pre-evaluation, there was so much hostility, distrust and sadness that the overall feeling was mostly that of hopelessness and a sense of giving up. There was simply a more positive energy and a renewed sense of self-belief and confidence in the post-evaluation.