Teaching New Coping Mechanisms via “Six String Therapy” at the Bridgeport Correctional Center

“I think music is just smooth to the soul,” says Linda Thomas, former warden of the Bridgeport Correctional Center in Bridgeport, TX.

“I call it ‘Six String Therapy’,” says resident Deryl Williams. “Being able to handle a guitar, and in a prison setting, is a blessing in itself. Because you don’t have access to these things. And being here on an MTC unit, I’m lucky enough to be able to do that.”

A unique program is being offered at the Bridgeport facility. It’s a guitar class taught by a resident.

“He really wants people to do well,” states Warden Thomas, referring to Deryl Williams, the class instructor. “And all the obstacles he had to get to do that? And I just see the inmates – it just changes your soul. I mean, we have inmates walk with a different attitude. Just all over, it has been just so productive here. I mean, we have a waiting list.”

Bridgeport Guitar Class Still
Resident instructor Deryl Williams.

“I like seeing people learn,” Deryl explains. “I like the little lights that go off in their head when they put the music theory and the application together. They start to get it and they start playing. They’re playing the songs that they like. And you can tell that they’re really going to stick with this.”

“I really enjoy it,” says Clifton Carpenter, a resident student. “One of the best things I do here. It kind of gives you an opportunity to kind of get away. And there’s nothing wrong with making music, making music is really good. Especially in here, it’s good for the soul.”

“So, to be in a prison environment and have the ability to learn a skill that’s going to give me another type of coping mechanism out in the world is phenomenal,” agrees CJ Robertson, another resident student. “It’s just great. It’s a great opportunity.”

Bridgeport Guitar Class Still
CJ Robertson, resident student.

“I’m just thankful that we get this opportunity here to do this because it’s not something you get everywhere,” Clifton says.

“I’m just extremely grateful,” says CJ, “to the administration here, our warden, and our instructor, Deryl, for bringing this opportunity here.”

Deryl expresses his thanks as well.

“I’d like to thank Warden Thomas for being able to do this program,” he states. “I’ve never seen a warden that’s so involved. Thank you.”