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Philippines: Dancing Prisoners’ Tribute to Michael Jackson

And they've done it again. Last June 27, convicted criminals from Cebu danced to the tunes of the late Michael Jackson in a tribute performance marking the first death anniversary of the famous music icon.

Back in 2007, over a thousand inmates of a maximum security prison in the central Philippine island-province of Cebu became an international hit after jail authorities posted a footage of the prisoners dancing to Michael Jackson's “Thriller” on the Internet.

With more than 42 million views on YouTube, the music video of the Cebuano prisoners has become one of the most watched clips on the internet.

Lindsay's Adventure in the Philippines felt estranged by the sight of the dancing inmates.

For the past few years, they have been using this dance program as part of their rehabilitation program, as a means of positive reinforcement for the inmates. It was quite a strange sight watching over 1,000 inmates in bright orange pants perform choreographed dances. There was even a specialized group of dancers who were better than the rest and therefore were highlighted in the center of the other dancers.

The Fountain Yield saw the performances as a form of therapy for the prisoners.

We all need to be healed, every one has the right to be given another chance. The best way to heal ourselves if through any form of art. Art gives spirit freedom to express itself. These people obviously have suffered from certain blockages in their life that is why they ended up in prison. Dancing is a form of release for them. Aside from the fact that it could lift up their morale. This could give them more optimism once they get out of prison.

Meanwhile, Hellagood Ed's Wee Weblog interrogates the role of music in prisoner rehabilitation.

Are human rights being ignored for the cause of misguided attempt to stop prisoner rebellion and instead the desire to control every action of law-breakers has become a publicity stunt? If the punishment is to suit the crime its hard to see how all the prisoners fit into these routines given that their crimes range from murder to shoplifting… If prisoners are forced into dance skits, how much rehabilitation are they really benefiting from?

Last year, these same group of imprisoned criminals also performed a tribute to Jackson just two days after his death. The official footages of the performance has yet to be uploaded online. Here's an unofficial video of this year's performance:

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