Over 100,000 men and women are released from our prisons each year. That’s five times the number of fans at a single U2 show in your typical major sports arena. That’s 100,000 convicted murderers, thieves and the chronically unlucky that must relearn everything there is to know about the world. That is, if they are to become functioning members of society.

“There was a time when we’d just kick them out onto the streets, and they’d have to learn how to buy a ticket for Neil Diamond or The Offspring on their own,” says Dr. Alfred E. Bellows, psychiatrist and author of Dead Fan Walking, the book that sparked three congressional hearings into the penal system’s concert-reintegration policies. “They’d come out of prison knowing nothing at all about line bracelets, gold circle seating or two-for-one lawn seats at major amphitheatres. That’s why Jail House Rock is so important.”

What is Jail House Rock? Introduced into Congress in 1999 and passed by a collection of senators and representatives too distracted by the faux Y2K doomsday scenario to actually read what they were voting for, Jail House Rock provides a nurturing, positive learning environment so that today’s prisoners can buy tickets for acts like the Backstreet Boys and System Of A Down tomorrow. Although extremely controversial when launched, the program has made believers out of doubters. Today, even Jail House Rock’s staunchest critics concede to the program’s success. A success born out by the placement of over 75,000 ex-convicts in the audiences for Green Day, The Allman Brothers Band and Barry Manilow during the first six months of 2005.

One can only imagine what the world must be like for someone who has been incarcerated for 20, 30, or even 40 years, and then released to a brave new world of Ja Rule, Pearl Jam and a Beatle-less Paul McCartney. Imagine the uncertainty that person must feel as he or she walks into a Ticketmaster for the very first time. Imagine the fear and the shock. Imagine the terror.

“The first few steps are always the hardest,” says Dr. Bellows. “However, through role-playing, group therapy and an array of mood-altering pharmaceuticals, we can prepare our prisoners for the world of tomorrow. A world where they too will buy tickets for Liz Phair, Good Charlotte and Depeche Mode. A world where they just might be sitting next to you.”

Coming up later this week. Excessive flatulence during support act performances. Is there a cure? Stay tuned.