Recordings: Empathy in the Dungeon

In the huge cafeteria of California's Folsom Prison, a baritone lament ech oes over a shuffling country beat:

I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die . . .

Two thousand inmates whoop and whis tle. A prison official barks out an order:

"Duffy, No. 9041 — custody office!" The singer launches into a knowing ditty about prison discipline, interpolating, "They're mean bastards, ain't they?"

He plunges the hall into tense silence by intoning a melancholy ballad:

Won't you tell the folks back home I'll soon be comin' , And don't let 'em know I never will be free . ....