For the estimated 2.4 million people incarcerated in the United States, without access to many of the pleasures that we all take for granted, the ability to listen to music is deeply valuable. As our friends at Jail Guitar Doors have demonstrated, music can play an important role in rehabilitation and healing. After all, music is a universal language, a cross-cultural unifier that builds bonds of empathy and understanding.
But some former federal prisoners are now arguing that their access to music has been wrongly compromised after leaving the prison walls behind. In a recent complaint, five former inmates allege that SanDisk Corp. and Advanced Technologies Group LLC (ATG) are taking advantage of an exclusive contract with the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to financially exploit this vulnerable population at a time when their focus should be on successful reintegration into society. In the class action suit, filed in a United States District Court in Michigan, the former inmates assert claims for Sherman Antitrust Act violations, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, unjust enrichment, conversion, unconscionability and violations of state consumer protection laws.