The network of Penitentiary Symphony Orchestras was established in 2007 for the purpose of reducing violence in jails and preparing inmates for their reintegration into society through the learning, here practice, medicine and enjoyment of music.
The Penitentiary Symphony Orchestras (PSO) are part of the Penitentiary Academic Program (PAP), which is funded by the Inter-American Development Bank and carried out by the State Foundation for the National System of Youth and Children’s Orchestras of Venezuela in concert with the Ministry of People’s Power for Interior and Justice.
Currently, the Penitentiary Symphony Orchestras consist of 1,565 members and, to date, over 7,000 inmates have received music education through the PAP.
PSO Admission Process
To form the ensembles, the inmates are interviewed so as to know their temperament, nature, and morphology. Based on this information, they are assigned a musical instrument. The only requirement is not to have records of assault against penitentiary staff. Applications are accepted year-round.
In every prison facility where the program has been implemented, more than 137 concerts, recitals and technical exhibitions have been presented for the inmates and their families. The Penitentiary Symphony Orchestras have also performed, as a unified ensemble, at the Teresa Carreño Theater in Caracas, always guarded by soldiers from the balcony and both sides of the stage. In this theater, the orchestras have performed a varied program that includes Venezuelan, Latin American, and European works.
In March 2013, the Penitentiary Symphony Orchestras paid tribute to President Hugo Chávez, at the Military Academy Funeral Chapel in Caracas, by playing a medley of songs by Alí Primera and other Venezuelans composers.
Penitentiaries where the PAP has been implemented:
- Anexo Femenino de Tocuyito (Carabobo state).
- Comunidad Penitenciaria de Coro (Falcón state).
- Centro Penitenciario de Carabobo -Mínima de Tocuyito (Carabobo state).
- Centro Penitenciario de la Región Andina (Mérida state).
- Centro Penitenciario de la Región Insular -San Antonio- (Nueva Esparta state).
- Centro Penitenciario de Occidente Santa Ana (Táchira state).
- Internado Judicial de Barinas (Barinas state).
- Instituto Nacional de Orientación Femenina -INOF- (Miranda state).
Ten percent of the inmates at these institutions are expected to receive music education through the PAP, which will be gradually implemented in other prisons.