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Locked In: Sound Effect, Episode 57

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Prison cells at Alcatraz prison in San Francisco.

  "Sound Effect" is your weekly tour of ideas, inspired by the place we live. The show is hosted by KPLU's Gabriel Spitzer. For this episode, the "Sound Effect" staff brings us stories of being locked in.

First, we visit the Washington Corrections Center in Shelton where Gabriel Spitzer talks to people who are arguably the most locked in: inmates in solitary confinement. But this prison is one of a handful across the country pioneering a new program, called the Blue Room, which allows inmates to enjoy nature from behind bars through the power of film. We get a look inside the room and talk to inmates about why these nature videos make them feel more connected to the outside world.

The scientist behind the Blue Room, biologist Nalini Nadkarni, also explains how this program has the potential to enact sweeping changes in a prison system known for violence, despair and astronomic rates of recidivism. Nadkarni hopes it will teach everyone, not just prisoners, about the value of nature.

Next, we go from being locked in prison to being locked in your own body. Neuroscientist Christof Koch explains locked-in syndrome, a condition that leaves patients conscious but unable to move and communicate with the world. He talks with Gabriel Spitzer about what locked-in patients reveal about the nature of consciousness and what it means to be human.

Finally, a tragic story of a woman locked in her own home. Senior producer Arwen Nicks speaks with civil rights advocate Charlene Strong about the night her wife died — and how it propelled her into a life of activism.