A Montgomery County prison hosts a TedX event inside its walls

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Jun 5, 2014 4:00 AM
Prison fence

(Harrisburg) -- A state prison in Montgomery County is hosting an unlikely event today - a TedX conference.

TED Talks - Technology, Entertainment and Design - focus on what it calls ideas worth spreading.

It's a radio program (heard Saturday mornings at 6 a.m. on WITF), a web series, a group of conferences and a phenomenon.

At the maximum security Graterford Prison in Montgomery County, eight inmates, the State Police, and the family member of a crime victim will participate in a TEDx event, an offshoot of the main TED organization.

Department of Corrections spokeswoman Susan McNaughton says TED staff approached agencies across the country with the idea, and they took it to inmates.

"We auditioned them, and then we let them come back again. And we really worked with them to help them become better public speakers. Yes, we know everything that they're going to say."

McNaughton says inmates also had to be cleared by the Office of the Victim Advocate.

The theme of the event is "Concrete Vision", and the talks are meant to center around how to be a better person.

"People perceive prisons based on what they see in movies, which isn't necessarily the true picture. And so we're hoping through these talks, people will learn that while an individual may spend some time in prison, we have worthwhile programs that really do help them to change their ways," says McNaugton.

It's by invitation only, and slated to run from 10 until 3:30 this afternoon. McNaughton says between 150 and 200 people have been invited. The prison houses about 2,000 inmates.

Other states have held similar events, including one in Marion, Ohio in 2012.

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