Much like Merle Haggard before him, Jelly Roll has been behind bars and lived the life of a con. That he's been able to fight forward and turn his life around is a big testament to the man he is. That he continues to reach out to ex-cons and those still behind bars and fighting those battles is an even bigger statement.
The HARP (Helping Addicts Recover Progressively) program is a voluntary jail-based treatment and recovery program for inmates who struggle with addiction. The Chesterfield County (Virginia) Jail has hosted this program for seven years and recently, it came to the attention of Jelly - a recovering addict himself.
Saturday, the singer surprised the inmates at the jail by dropping in unannounced, performing some of his hit songs for the men, laughing and singing with them and, most of all, showing folks who are recovering that a better life is possible. Talking with television station WRIC, Jelly said, "It’s crazy, dude. I mean, the last time I was in one of these places...I was inmate 00364950. So, to have my tour bus parked right outside inside the gate is wild. It's the craziest experience ever."
His message to the inmates? "Once I started believing that change was possible, then things changed, started becoming possible. And that’s what I hope these guys get. I hope they look at me and go, 'man, that can happen,' you know,” he said. "Who you were is not who you are and who you are isn't even a picture of what you can be."