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How a Prison Play Goes on Tour

Inmates of Sterling Correctional Facility rehearsing “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” before they  performed the play at the Denver Women’s Correctional Facility.

“There’s a few of...

“There’s a few of us leading these systems who realize that something’s wrong,” Mr. Williams said. “We’ve made prison a place of starkness, idleness, a place without purpose. Then we’re confused where people get out and they don’t make it. I think that is on us.”

It is a delicate subject in Colorado. In 2013, a corrections director, widely praised for his dedication to reforms here, was assassinated[1] by a paroled prisoner with ties to a white-supremacist prison gang. As the cast and crew prepared for “Cuckoo’s Nest,” a few said that corrections officers asked the men why anyone convicted of violent crimes should have a spotlight and applause.

Several of the inmates said the play allowed them to feel human again. They marveled at being allowed to shake hands with the state officials, lawyers and arts advocates who attended the show. The men said that delving into the “Cuckoo’s Nest” characters — many of them broken and traumatized — had forced them to look inside themselves as well.

“This whole thing is some weird dream,” said Christopher Shetskie, who is serving a life sentence without parole for murdering two women in 1995 and 1996, according to newspaper accounts at the time. He played a doctor in the play.

Amy Mund, who was tied to a bed in her home by Mr. Shetskie before he killed her sister Karen, did not believe he should have the privilege of performing with the troupe.

“He brutally murdered two young vibrant ladies in the prime of their lives,” Ms. Mund said in an email. “I question why he is allowed to participate in plays and travel outside the confines of the prison. As a victim of a violent crime, that does not sound like justice to me.”

References

  1. ^ assassinated (www.denverpost.com)

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