News: Scottish Music Label ‘Criminal Records’ Launched For Current & Former Prison Inmates

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My goal is to give people a voice and it’s simply that. It’s to give people a voice that feel they are denied that, and it’s to plant a seed of hope to let them see that their lives can be better and they can give back to society.

Musician Jill Brown
In Conversation With The BBC

Prison is generally spoken of as ‘rehabilitation’ – however, as we see time and time again, this is untrue. The incarceration system around the globe is broken; producing an endless cycle of imprisonment that does not assist prisoners with integration back into society at all.

Simply throwing those who have committed crimes into a cell without the genuine possibility of rehabilitation (whether it be mental health assistance, social workshops or addiction programs) along with little access to academic education that can help one turn their life around: the general cycle of the prison system seems less about helping those right their wrongs, with many countries even treating inmates as unpaid workers for manual labour.

Speaking to the BBC: Scottish musician Jill Brown, who has been conducting music workshops at HMP Barlinnie, Scotland’s largest prison situated in Glasgow recognises this, and has subsequently launched a music label for those currently and formerly incarcerated at the Prison titled ‘Criminal Records‘. 

She explains that while controversial, they would not be working with anyone who is still considered a danger to society, as well as treating the project in a manner that shows respect for any victims that may have been involved with the inmates.

I do think that you can’t lock people up and expect them to come out changed, if you haven’t positively contributed to their lives while they are in there. Personally I think it is refreshing when someone is given another chance and another shot at life – Jill Brown shared with the BBC.


Eric McLellan, who has spent a decade signing artists to the label Sire Records is also involved with the project, citing Tupac Shakur as an inspiration.

2Pac, when he was signed by Death Row and Suge Knight, he was in jail. They posted his bail and I think the next day, when he got out of prison, he recorded ‘All Eyez On Me’ which is a diamond-selling record. I would imagine he wrote a majority of those songs in prison. So if there was a possibility of a way to record artists in prison it could be really cool.

Eric McLellan via the BBC
Sire Records
Read the full BBC article here.

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