Criminals. The harsh subject was handled with thoughtfulness, and even a little humor, at a Thursday night showing of Salt Memphis. This night was part of season two of Salt, a serial event that uses music and dialogue to provoke rich thoughts about complex subjects.
The Shelby County Public Defender’s office collaborated with the creators of Salt, Shady Grove Presbyterian Church, to assemble stories and music that would provide more questions than answers about crime in Memphis and how society copes with those accused and convicted of crimes.
The highlight of the evening was an interview with David Scott, a Memphis man imprisoned as a teenager and recently released. At the age of 63. In the 1960s, Scott was sentenced to life for a murder committed during a robbery. Scott claims he was wrongly accused by a friend, who actually pulled the trigger. Now that he has freedom, though, Scott says he is unemployable after a lifetime in prison and was sleeping under a bridge after just three nights out of prison. He has found temporary housing through the Hospitality Hub.
Shelby County assistant public defender Rob Gowen provided a portion of the music for the program. Gowen is a member of the the Capital Defense Team and an accomplished guitarist.
Assistant public defender Josh Spickler presented a series of numbers that revealed the devastating effects of incarceration rates in Tennessee and the U.S.
The night was hosted by Jarad Bingham, pastor of Shady Grove Presbyterian. Although the event was held at his church, Bingham views Salt as a means to broaden understanding and faith in humanity and not as a vehicle for religion.
Salt Memphis events will be held every Thursday through Thanksiving. They are at 7 p.m. at Shady Grove Presbyterian Church in East Memphis.