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Jail Guitar Doors – Changing Lives Through Music

The MC5‘s Wayne Kramer launches foundation to bring guitars to the incarcerated


Jail Guitar Doorsis an international foundation devoted to putting guitars in the hands of incarcerated individuals. The organization was founded by MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer, Billy Bragg and Kramer’s wife, Margaret.


Wayne Kramer in particular has a very personal connection to the issue of America’s prisons, having been incarcerated himself for two years in the mid-70s after being busted for dealing cocaine. Wayne getting sent to prison was immortalized in the Clash song “Jail Guitar Doors” that the foundation takes its name from.


“I ran into Billy Bragg and he told me about an initiative in England named after the Clash song, which was about me going to prison and I thought ‘That’s a good thing you’re doing in England Billy,’” explained Kramer, speaking to GSTV.


“But I’m an American and as a formerly incarcerated person, I’m a musician, maybe I’m uniquely positioned to be a bridge between the world of music and people in prison.”


Kramer launched Jail Guitar Doors USA in 2008 and currently their program operates in more than forty prisons across the country, bringing in guitars and doing songwriting workshops.


“What we do is simple,” explains Kramer. “We find people who work in prisons that are willing to use music as a tool for rehabilitation and we provide them with those tools and we work for political reform, legislative reform and prison reform.”


For more information, or to make a donation, visit Jail Guitar Doors.

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