VH1 Under Fire for Jailhouse Rock

Christopher Bissey murdered teenagers Mary Orlando and Jennifer Grider in 1995. And now he's about to have his television debut on VH1's new series, Music Behind Bars.

Not surprisingly, that doesn't sit well with Orlando's mother.

"It offends me a lot that he's doing this and my daughter's dead," said Bethlehem, Pa., resident Mary Orlando, who is encouraging people to boycott the show.

The program, which debuts Oct. 18, highlights prison bands made up of murderers, rapists and other criminals jailed in correctional facilities across the country. The first episode focuses on Dark Mischief, a heavy metal band at the State Correctional Institution at Graterford, in Pennsylvania.

The very idea of the show has sparked outrage among lawmakers and victims' advocates who say it only glorifies hardened criminals.

"I respect their right to produce this, but for the love of God, there's a better story to be told," said Pennsylvania State Rep. T.J. Rooney, who is asking Viacom, which owns VH1, to donate ad revenue from the episode to a victim’s group.

"Mary Orlando was about to be 16 and she was a prolific dancer and loved music," Rooney said in an interview with Fox News. "This girl is six feet in a grave and this guy is about to make his TV debut."

Orlando's mother, who shares her daughter's name, was shocked to see the killer featured in a commercial.

"Seeing that (commercial) really, really got to me. I couldn't believe it," she said in a telephone interview. "I don't think they should be having a band in prison. And I don't think any of them should be on TV."

The show's producer said he could understand the objections, but defended the decision to create and air the program.

"It was never our intention to make heroes of these criminals, just to show that a music program in a prison has many beneficial arenas to it," said Arnold Shapiro, best known for his 1978 Oscar-winning prison documentary Scared Straight.

Shapiro said he anticipated some backlash, but said the show was intended to highlight programs that help inmates be less violent, both behind bars and in society once they are released.

"A relative of a victim could be upset, and I can understand why," said Shapiro. "But there is a much greater good… every warden and official is telling us this is a beneficial thing for society… this isn't a luxury. It's not there for their amusement. It's there because it has a rehabilitative advantage and it's also better for keeping the prison safer."

The prisoners in the bands are only allowed to participate if they are well behaved and aren't cited for any infractions, Shapiro said.

"We never meant to cause any grief to any of the victims out there," said Susan McNaughton, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. "Ninety percent of our inmates are serving sentences for which they will be released. We are not into just warehousing inmates."

Mrs. Orlando said she had no problem with the concept of rehabilitation -- for some inmates.

"You can't just throw them in a cell and expect them to come out and be in society. But Bissey, and some of those other murders, they better not be getting out."

McNaughton said Bissey, who is serving a life term for killing Orlando, 15 and Grider, 17, is not prominently featured in the show. But with some reality TV stars going on to be minor celebrities, Rooney is concerned the prisoners will eventually benefit from the show.

McNaughton said that's not the case.

"I've heard rumors that people think (the inmates) are going to get a record contract. That's not true. Or that they are going on tour. Absolutely not."