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10th Annual Calls From Home

December 14, 2009

WHITESBURG, Ky. - It is holiday music to the ears of prisoners when a radio station in Whitesburg broadcasts holiday messages from family members and loved ones in the 10th annual "Calls From Home." Some families listen to Christmas carols on their favorite radio station this year while baking cookies for the holiday season, but WMMT is hoping people also are interested in a different sort of program.

The "Calls From Home" project encourages family members of prisoners to reach out and send season's greetings to their incarcerated loved ones, says Andy Kachor, of Appalshop, a nonprofit arts and education center that helps solve problems in Appalachia.

"'Calls From Home' is a free way for family members to call their loved ones in prison with this toll-free phone number. As a result, family members can leave messages that are longer than, perhaps, they could afford."

Online or on the radio, "Calls From Home" is also an education about the criminal justice system in the U.S., where 60 percent of prisons are built in low-income, rural communities.

Every year, hundreds of family members, friends and loved ones of those incarcerated call in to leave holiday greetings for those behind bars. Kachor says callers read poems, sing a song or send a blessing.

"It's a lot of encouragement and sort of just a positive message during the holidays."

On Dec. 21 and 28, "Calls from Home" will be broadcast on WMMT FM88.7. Between Dec. 20 and Dec. 25, it will be available online at www.wmmtfm.org and broadcast on 200 community radio stations around the nation (check local listings for times and stations).

According to the Sentencing Project, a public policy group focused on the criminal justice system, the United States has the highest incarceration rate of any industrialized nation in the world.

Bill Goodman, Public News Service - KY