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The Power Source Training: A Program to Prepare Lifers to Facilitate a High Impact Program for Young Prisoners

19/09/17 COMMENTS 0

The Lionheart Foundation’s newest Innovative Grant from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) supports The Power Source Training Program: A Program to Prepare Lifers and Long-Termers to Facilitate a High Impact Program for Young Prisoners (18-23).

Robin Casarjian, Lionheart’s Executive Director, visited the two prisons in California where the program is taking place (CSP-Sacramento [new Folsom] and Mule Creek State Prison) to launch the program. She met with an enthusiastic response from more than a hundred lifers and long-termers. This grant involves training lifers and long-termers to deliver a program that integrates both Power Source and Houses of Healing with 18-23 year olds within the prison system. Because there were many more registrants than there were opportunities for participation, final registration was determined through a lottery. The training is an enormous gift to lifers who see no possibility of being released and to those who have many years to serve in front of them. The program opens the door to doing something of significant meaning where they can make a potential life-changing difference for the younger men, many of whom will be released. Lionheart has also applied for and received CDCR research approval for this program to gather data on the impact of the training for both the prisoner-facilitators and the young men.

Stay tuned for further developments.

Transformative Programming for Prisoners in Solitary Confinement: The Houses of Healing Self-Study Program

18/09/17 COMMENTS 0

The Lionheart Foundation’s Houses of Healing (HOH) program has had a life-changing impact for thousands of the men and women involved in the criminal justice system.  In 2016, Lionheart created an unprecedented 14-session program based on HOH – The Houses of Healing Self-study Course for Prisoners in Solitary Confinement that has been piloted, with great success, to prisoners in three Supermax prisons in CA over the past year.  Lionheart is moving forward to promote the program to prison systems in additional states.

In solitary, there is usually no programming available and prisoners naturally degrade psychologically.  Research indicates that the prolonged isolation associated with solitary confinement adversely impacts individuals’ physical and mental health.  The HOH Self-study Course for Prisoners in Solitary Confinement proposed herein will not only offer a connection to the larger world with weekly mailings over a period of four months, but will also deliver a program shown to reduce depression, anxiety and anger, the psychological symptoms associated with solitary confinement, while bolstering emotional competency skills.

More than 450 prisoners confined to solitary confinement in the CA prison system (referred to as Special Housing Units or the SHU in CA) registered voluntarily to participate in the course, reflecting the enormous need and desire for support.  There have been 160 evaluations returned from the CA prisoners thus far. 100% of these prisoners indicated that they would recommend the program to others. The vast majority indicated having a greater sense of hopefulness, gaining practical skills to manage the intense stress of solitary, and gaining insights that are helping them heal from both the trauma of solitary and what is usually a trauma-impacted early life. The profound impact of the pilot study on these prisoners has led to the approval by the CA Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for Lionheart to recruit additional prisoners and carry out a formal research project in 2017-2018.

Most of these prisoners will be released back into society.  The goal of this program is to offer these men and women effective tools needed to cope with their experience in prison, but also to give them the support they need to facilitate successful reentry into society, positively impacting these returning citizens, their families, and the greater community.

Houses of Healing Self Study Course for Prisoners in Solitary Confinement.

28/10/16 COMMENTS 0

The Lionheart Foundation offers a Houses of Healing Self-Study course for men and women in solitary confinement. Currently there are hundreds of inmates in CA alone who are engaged in the program.

Since the book Houses of Healing was published about 150,000 copies have been distributed to prisons and jails throughout the United States. The Lionheart Foundation, publisher of Houses of Healing and the sponsor of this course, has donated about 60,000 of these books to prison libraries. Hundreds of prisoners have written to tell us how the book Houses of Healing (HOH) has changed their lives.

This is the only time I have ever reflected on my life and what led me to the way I’ve lived. I feel after reading Houses of Healing and doing the exercises a weight has been lifted off my shoulders that I’ve been carrying around forever.
Cynthia MCI Framingham, MA

This book has really been an eye opener to me.  So many years I have gone through many groups and one on one therapy and have never had the burden and relief that I have gotten from Houses of Healing.  I pray that anyone who reads this book can get as much as I have gotten from it.                            Robert   State Prison  Riverhead, NY

 Throughout my incarceration (28 yrs off & on), I have read hundreds of books.  I can honestly say that “Houses of Healing” has made the biggest impression on me than any other book I have ever read.  It has been a huge help in helping me reorganize my thinking while letting me know that I was not the only person feeling like I did… The insight        I have gained has been immeasurable.                              Phil  CSP-Lancaster, CA

      … Houses of Healing was for me the first glimmer of light on a dark horizon.

     … I found Houses of Healing remarkable in that it fit my situation right on the money.

     … I just wish I could have found this book years ago.

 Like these individuals, many incarcerated men and women get access to Houses of Healing through the book alone. They might find it in the prison library or a friend, staff person, or cellmate suggests they read it.  To make the Houses of Healing Program available to men and women in solitary / segregation, Houses of Healing is being offered in this self-study course. 

Assignments are mailed to prisoners each week for 14 weeks.  Like any self-study course, no one checks up on whether you do the assignments but like anything in life, you get out of it what you put into it.  As prisoners read the weekly mailings and do the assignments, we hope they will feel encouraged and inspired by what they are learning from week to week – and as a result, really want to do the assignments and step into the course with both feet.

Being in solitary confinement is extremely challenging for most anyone no matter how emotionally “together” they are when they first go in. Because of this, each session starts with a section called “Doing Time in Solitary.” The “Doing Time in Solitary” sections do not directly connect to topics covered in Houses of Healing. They are written to be an additional support while in solitary (as well as when prisoners return to population or the outside community).  These sections offer important advice, coping strategies, and inspiration, often from men and women who were locked up for long periods of time in solitary.

Every session includes “Participant Notes.” The Participant Notes give prisoners an overview of  the topics to be addressed  in that session. The notes also provide some additional encouragement, and suggestions on how to work with the lessons.

The pages titled “Self-work” give prisoners the assignments for the week, as well as worksheets that correspond to the assignments. If they participate fully, I trust that this program will be a great support for them – and perhaps like it has been for many incarcerated men and women before, a real game changer.

Being in solitary involves dealing with many challenges.  Exactly how challenging solitary is for each person depends on many things. Some of these things include: how restrictive the isolation is; the circumstances that preceded their being put in solitary;  how long they will be/or have been in solitary; and their emotional state/mental health when they were put in solitary. Other factors include how isolated they are; whether or not they have a cellmate and if they get along with him/her; whether there are others around who they can communicate with; whether they have a TV to pass some of the time;  and what access they have to books. Other key issues include the quantity and quality of mental health and medical services when they need them; how they feel they are treated by staff;  whether they have support and communication from people outside the prison as well as whether they receive visits and can make phone calls to people who are important to them;  and very importantly, what skills they have for managing their stress (anxiety, frustration, anger, etc.).  These issues and others greatly influence the degree of difficulty and challenge solitary confinement brings to each individual person.

In the Houses of Healing Self Study Course, prisoners are offered many skills for managing stress.  These are skills that can be useful wherever they are.  They will be encouraged week in and week out to give this program their best shot.  All research shows that long-term isolation takes a toll on emotional and physical health and well-being.  In this course prisoners are taught techniques that have been scientifically proven to guard against, minimize, or slow down this downward spiral – tools that keep the people who practice them more in control of their own life and well-being. The techniques they learn have been proven to increase resilience which is the ability to withstand or recover more quickly from challenging circumstances. Prisoners gain insights about themselves and their lives.  And they will hopefully discover greater psychological and emotional freedom – even behind bars – even while in isolation.

 “If I had to do that time in solitary over, I would work out daily, read a lot, try to keep positive thoughts in my head, eat only what my body needed, and try to keep my head up no matter what.” Ken. on death row at 16 years old

 

The Power Within (Part 1)

28/04/14 COMMENTS 0

Editor’s Note: Lionheart welcomes guest bloggers to write about topics aligned with our mission. If you would like to be considered for an upcoming guest blog, please contact us at: questions@lionheart.org The following post is posted from Theinnervoice84′s Blog. Part II to follow.
Many thanks for this insightful post. http://theinnervoice84.wordpress.com/

About two months ago a buddy of mine got out early after completing a relatively difficult six month substance abuse treatment program. He’d been to prison a few times before but he was finally serious about overcoming his alcohol addiction and insecurities, moving past his painful upbringing and making good on the potential so many people have seen in him. He couldn’t miss another day of his ten-year old son’s life, or keep dealing with the irresponsibility and manipulative games of his son’s mother. He couldn’t waste anymore time on incarceration. Whenever we spoke on the phone things seemed to be coming together more and more for him.

Today he’s sitting in county jail hoping to get under seven years for a new charge.

Reading that first letter he sent me after this latest arrest was heartbreaking. He clearly needed all my support as his self-respect was in shambles and those who’d been in his corner suddenly seemed to be in hiding. Every sentence made more vivid the picture of a man utterly lost in shame and confusion. “Am I destined to die drunk and alone, only out of prison if lucky?”, he asked. “What am I missing?….I don’t even feel human, no human would just throw away his son’s love, right?”

Generally I have a decent idea about how to respond (or not to respond) in these types of situations. But this time I felt totally useless. Outside of battling with an overwhelming sweet tooth, particularly 4-5 years ago, I have little idea what it’s like to have such a weakness for something that I’d repeatedly sacrifice my freedom, family, and self-esteem (basically, my life) for it. His demon is foreign to me – even if it does have less to do with alcohol and possibly more to do with things like a fear of trying and failing.

Those of us who return to prison, especially if more than once, surely go through a similar evaluation of who we are and what if any worth our lives have. Is it our fate to be a disappointment, a cautionary tale, at best? Will we ever be more than addicts, thieves, drug dealers, etc.? Do we even deserve anything more than society’s contempt?

I’ve never been incarcerated before this and after all the self-exploration I’ve done, all the missed opportunities I’ve mourned and all the pain I’ve seen my loved ones endure because of my crime, I’d be devastated if I returned to prison. As I try to see my friend through his internal hell I’m reminded of just how important, how essential it is that I leave no stone unturned in my preparation for release. Despite how confident I am in my development and maturity, I can’t guarantee I won’t find myself back behind bars after I’m released – even innocent people get locked up. But the least I can do is be nakedly honest with myself and confront every single potential pitfall in my character and thought process so as to reduce, as much as possible, the odds of me coming back.

Engulfed in self-pity, my friend wrote that he understood if I didn’t want to keep “such a loser” as him in my life. But I’m a die-hard believer in redemption; no matter what mistakes we make or sins we commit, the path to dignity and triumph is always open to us. We define our fates. Besides, after giving up 17 years of my life for a childish allegiance to an irrelevant street code, I would be an absolute hypocrite if I gave up on someone else for their poor decisions. I just hope his experience and expressions of guilt can help us understand the importance of anticipating and strengthening ourselves for the tests and difficulties sure to come.

Keep boxing temptation.

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Solution-Minded

10/03/14 COMMENTS 0

Editor’s Note: Lionheart welcomes guest bloggers to write about topics aligned with our mission. If you would like to be considered for an upcoming guest blog, please contact us at: questions@lionheart.org The following post is the first of three that will be posted from Theinnervoice84’s Blog.  Many thanks for this insightful post.   http://theinnervoice84.wordpress.com/

In 2010 I was sent out of the maximum security institution where I’d spent the first six years of my bit, to a medium four hours away from home. For some time I’d been hoping to leave – initially for greener rec yards, but eventually out of disgust over the complete absence of programs, educational opportunities, sports leagues, music activities, etc. that were offered at that max. In my mind, however, nothing could be worse than coming here. Hell, I would have preferred the Supermax, which was only half as far away, plus I’d get a single cell.

For about a week after I learned that I might be coming here, and then learned that I definitely was, my body rejected my usual positivity like an immune system reacting to an incompatible donor organ. Almost everything received a biased and critical review. Even after my emotions settled and my spirit recovered I was still unhappy about being here. But that didn’t matter. The relevance of any experience does not depend on how we feel, but rather on how we perceive and respond. Of course, this depends on our attitudes/mentalities.

Despite how I felt throughout this process of being moved I was able to remain grounded. I generally try to maintain a strong attitude through a concept well-expressed by the Serenity Prayer: “Lord grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Although, I don’t always succeed.

I used to, and to some degree occasionally still do, have serious difficulty accepting the things I cannot change. In prison, as a society, luxury confines free will. Because we don’t act in line with sober judgement, but in order to preserve privilege, we constantly fail to notice the advantages of new circumstances. What do we expect when our vision forward is so heavily shaded by images of the past? “You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one.”

Keeping our heads up breeds good fortune – not only in physical benefits but by disabling negative thoughts and emotions, which are virtually the sole source of stress and discontentment. Countless times during the literally thousands of basketball games I’ve played, I’ve seen dudes get mad and give up on a play because they didn’t get the ball when they wanted it. Then, when the ball is passed to them a second or two later it goes out-of-bounds because they are busy pouting about not getting exactly what they wanted. And countless times I’ve seen dudes (including myself) miss an easy shot, then let the rebound bounce inches away from them because they have their heads down or are looking off to the side in frustration as if the other team is going to feel sorry for them and give them another chance at the same shot. So many of us do the same thing in life; we let disappointment and misfortune blind us as great opportunities pass by well within arm’s reach.

I try to stay solution-minded by engaging in preventable measures, such as meditation, gratitude, and reviewing my daily actions, remarks, and body language. This way when “shit happens” my mind is more likely to jump over negative thoughts and emotions (anger, revenge, regret, sadness, etc.) and get right to focusing on how I can address the problem or move on.

Keep boxing temptation. Give Freedom a hug for me.

[Since June of 2010 I’ve written this blog (www.theinnervoice84.wordpress.com) primarily for formerly incarcerated people. The shock and temptations of freedom can be overwhelming, especially for  those recently released, and I try to encourage them to stay strong by sharing my hardships and experiences as a reminder of what they risk returning to otherwise. I don’t expect it to necessarily change anyone’s life, but maybe it can nudge struggling individuals away from harmful decisions just long enough for something substantial to take hold (like a job or good relationship).  [2014]

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Guest Blog: A House of Healing Within the Walls of San Quentin….

13/09/13 COMMENTS 0

Editor’s Note: From time to time, Lionheart welcomes guest bloggers to write about topics aligned with our mission. If you would like to be considered for an upcoming guest blog, please contact us at: questions@lionheart.org  

Many thanks to Susan Shannon and the OG (Original Group) Houses of Healing for contributing the following article and sharing their experiences.  Please check out “Stories from Lifers” at the bottom of the page.

Working in San Quentin State Prison has opened me up to so much wonder, often inspired by the pain and suffering I witness daily, the outgrowth of very difficult, often inhumane and unconscionable childhoods.  Have you ever pondered the bamboo shoot that has grown undergrounds for tens of feet before it finds that one crack in the sidewalk, or that one area of soft ground, then spires to the sky?  Welcome to the fruit I have witnessed from the Houses of Healing program.

I was blessed to take a Prison Ministry class in the final year of my Masters in Divinity program. This class was taught by Father George Williams, a Jesuit Priest, who is also the Catholic Chaplain at San Quentin. I initially took this class because it was offered on the one day I was on campus, but it quickly became much more than that. This class was the first trail of breadcrumbs leading me to a life-changing journey.

An astrologer told me 35 years ago that I would find my right-livelihood in “institutions.” I figured that the 20 years of work I had done with a few monasteries in India and Nepal had fulfilled that. I also had acquired a number of skills and tools in my toolbox having to do with Emotional Literacy and Restorative Justice. I had worked with middle school kids and adults in both fields for some time. As well, 40 years of Buddhist practice had hammered me into a good working vessel of compassion, insight, listening skills and a non-judgmental approach to life. I was blind to the fact that entering San Quentin would mark all that had come before as floorboards in my own growth and ability to embrace humanity in all its forms; floorboards which were lifted and transformed, one by one.

After the first year of attending Restorative Justice meetings with the inmates, I was ready for more. I asked Father George Williams if he would allow me to expand my hours at the prison and supervise me through the next leg of my chaplaincy program, a 2000-hour internship. To my delight, he agreed, and suggested that I start a Houses of Healing group there. He had taught the Houses of Healing curriculum on the east coast, knew Robin Casarjian, author of Houses of Healing and Executive Director of The Lionheart Foundation,was confident in my grasp of  Emotional Literacy and my spiritual dedication– plus he had 12 Houses of Healing books ready to go!

I had already gotten involved in three other groups at San Quentin, two, which were yearlong, groups dealing with in-depth soul searching and self-disclosure. Each group went deeply into the core teachings of Houses of Healing, but were differently focused-one on understanding victim awareness and one on domestic violence prevention. I had developed a sense of what “being ready” looked like among these inmates, as well as a sense of what “almost ready but not quite” looked like. Over the nearly 9 months of groups I had also seen how ripeness for the journey to one’s core self, one’s heart space, has its own timing. 

I decided to offer my Houses of Healing group to men who were not quite ready for the yearlong programs. I had hoped for at least some who had never done programs, but were at a crossroads in their life and were ready to test the waters. Father Williams had taught this whole course in 8-12 weeks. It seemed a perfect “training wheels” program. I asked the men in my existing groups to spread the word of this new Houses of Healing group to men who fit that description. I quickly had a list of twelve men. Father Williams granted me the boon of one highly skilled and seasoned inmate as a co-facilitator, later adding on another seminary student.  We had a room assignment of the small but cozy library in the Catholic Chapel.

Our Houses of Healing group began in September of 2012. To my delight I had a great mix of a few men who had never done any programs, but had “been down” for years, along with a few men who were veterans of several programs. We had a good age spread as well. I left our first meeting absolutely thrilled at the mix.

Little did I know that I was embarking on what has become one of the most powerful of tribal councils, peace summits, monastic meetings, sangha of truth, teaching circle and family of soul that I have ever known. Keep in mind that I have a history of doing lots and lots of groups, so I don’t say that lightly. Now and then with group work, the people in attendance almost seem to be calculated by some Divine Chef, as each adds such an exotically special flavor that the whole broth becomes an otherworldly elixir. This was so with my first Houses of Healing group.

It soon became clear to me that nearly everything I have ever learned about group facilitation had to be thrown out the window. As “each one teach one” became the theme of the class, I learned quickly to De-Facilitate. Simply to sit in the presence of these brave souls as they bore witness and taught each other through their own examples of storytelling prompted by the altruistically based curriculum of Houses of Healing. Night after night I came home and waded in wonder as I integrated the equal power of the truths of doing as well as not-doing. I witnessed the power of Wu-Wei, as the Taoists say, the path of “not doing” that can lead all present to their true nature.

As weeks led into months, I realized this was not going to be any 8-12 week group. We continued on as long as we got traction out of the teachings of the book. Discussions ripened into tears long held and easily released into our trusting tribe. Stories emerged as buried treasure chests which had been masquerading as a ball and chain around the ankle of a person who formerly viewed themselves as condemned, but now sprouted wings and saw themselves as liberated.

Robin responded thoughtfully, carefully and immediately to any questions I had. Father Williams was content that our “container” was strong and consistent enough to prevent any of these guys from ending up in The Hole or Ad-Seg due to lack of integration. My co-facilitator and I had agreed that we would end when we felt we were darn ready to end. That said, he was positioned to be released as one of the first of the Three Strikers to get out after Prop. 36 passed. Plus, our waiting list was growing.

Four months in I asked the guys for their first and only real assignment, though they had been given “pause and reflect” handouts all along. After hearing so many comments about how “this book” had turned their thinking and their lives around, I decided one day to make a request. “Please, guys, pick something, anything from the HoH book that moved you. Give us a 2-4 minute presentation about that topic in any form you want: writing, song, drumming, mime, art, whatever.”

Week by week went by of presentations, each one absolutely mind-blowing in the articulation of the transformation and integration hat had occurred in time together! I suggested to the guys that we make a booklet of these amazing testimonies and send as a thank-you to Robin, and as a testimony to the incredible living and healing document that Houses of Healing provides; a guidebook to the soul.

As the stories unfolded, so did the ideas for this booklet. I had the men visualize images they wanted to include. Later I went home and found matching images online. We shared the tragedy of our second co-facilitator’s sudden death. We shared the mixed emotion of joy and loss when my inmate co-facilitator was released, and later, another member. Finally, our booklet was completed and shared with Robin-and now all of you.

The men hope that their “Stories from Lifers” (Click Here to View Stories) will be inspiring to others. (If you have trouble viewing pictures on page 1,2 etc. please click Open with a Different Browser on top right of page and open with Adobe Reader) They have given me full permission to share this booklet with all of you. They also hope that somehow this booklet will grow, including other stories, maybe even one day helping to fund the purchase of HoH books for ongoing classes. All of the men from this group are now mentoring our second HoH group. Each One Teach One.

I hope you all enjoy these profound stories and can utilize your inspiration for the work you are all doing in other prisons around the United States and around the world utilizing the Houses of Healing curriculum.

May all beings benefit by our efforts!

Much Respect and Many Thanks,

Susan Shannon, M. Div., and the OG (Original Group) of Houses of Healing in San Quentin, CA.

Photo of San Quentin Prison

 

 

 

 

 

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FEMALE INMATE SHARES HER EXPERIENCE WITH HOUSES OF HEALING

15/05/13 COMMENTS 0

Throughout the year we hear from facilitators across the country who offer Lionheart’s prison program, Houses of Healing, to incarcerated adults. The feedback they offer is typically outstanding and most valuable to us as we continue to develop our curricula for prisoners and youth.  Sometimes included are letters from the participants of the program, stories of struggle and change.  Just this afternoon we heard from a female inmate from South Carolina.   We were moved by what she had to say, and hope you are too. (J. Perry, COO, Lionheart)

          “When I started Houses of Healing I had high expectations. I’ve done that with every book I’ve read or class I’ve taken. I enter in thinking this will be the one that will make the difference—and I’m continually disappointed until now. Nine years worth of self-help books, courses and Bible studies and I finally found “the one.”  I can honestly say this book has transformed me. We all want to say that after taking a good course, but in this circumstance I know there is truth in the statement as my family has noticed measurable change in our interactions.

There are a number of ways Houses of Healing has positively impacted me. I used to be a very emotional person. I never realized how much until now. Not emotional as in overly reactive in an outward manner but inwardly my emotions would fly off the charts. I am now able to rationalize rather than emotionalize. I have found inner peace. When I encounter a situation that would have previously sent me in to an emotional tail-spin, I am able to stop. I can catch myself and in that moment I ask “what is the issue here?” that very question slows me down to the point where I am able to gather facts, look at my motivation, question the feelings and motivation of others and get to the root of the issues. Things are rarely as they first appear. I am able to remove myself from the situation emotionally and it gives me a different vantage point. It’s much like sitting back and watching a movie rather than being caught in the middle of the drama as a main character. The change in perspective makes all the difference. It’s amazing how much can happen in that brief moment prior to flipping that emotional switch. My inner calm and peace is maintained and huge issues seem to shrink before my eyes.

I have created a condensed version of the Daily Emotional Weather Report that I can mentally refer to on a situational level. This helps me clear away the emotional fog  and see a situation in the clear light of day. I am able to respond rather than react. For this alone I am grateful.

          Meditation has become a daily necessity. If I skip over it—I muddle through the day in a knot of tension. No matter what the day has held or what is to follow—taking a moment for meditation makes it all seem manageable.  I also welcome the time to literally “tune out” the buzz of prison.

Finally—Forgiveness…Houses of Healing has helped me see forgiveness as the gift it is. As with anything in life—the more you do it, the better you become. I’ve become quite proficient in giving it to others—with myself, not so much. I still struggle with self-forgiveness and have days when the guilt and shame swallow me whole. That being said, Houses of Healing has equipped me with the tools necessary to begin digging my way out of the pit. I’m just not there yet. Some days I welcome the darkness and pain. I feel deserving of it. But Houses of Healing has given me hope that perhaps one day I won’t feel like I need it any longer. For now I will just be grateful for the hope.

Thank you from the depths of my heart—for this opportunity to transform and grow emotionally and spiritually.”

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DO YOU HAVE A FRIEND OR RELATIVE IN PRISON?

21/03/13 COMMENTS 0

The U.S. has the highest per capita rate of incarceration in the "civilized" world.

You are not alone.  Almost everyone today knows someone, or of someone, who is incarcerated or involved with the criminal justice system – probation or parole. The rate of incarceration has accelerated at an  astounding pace in the U.S. with approximately 7,000,000 Americans under correctional supervision.  The United States has the highest per capita rate of incarceration in the “civilized” world.  One in every 100 Americans is behind bars.  It is no wonder that most of us know of someone in these unfortunate circumstances. We at the Lionheart Foundation hear from concerned friends and relatives of inmates every day looking for help.

Circumstances are as varied as there are inmates.  Some are incarcerated for the first time, while some have long histories of incarceration and recidivism.  Some are in for a short time, while others are coming out after a very long sentence.  No matter the situation, there are also commonalities, one of the most pressing being how men and women will learn and grow while incarcerated so that they are prepared to live a successful crime-free, drug free life after release.

Lionheart’s social emotional literacy program for prisoners, Houses of Healing, helps incarcerated men and women take stock of their lives, change destructive behavior patterns while giving them support to alter the course of their lives.  This program has supported tens of thousands of prisoners through self-help, one-on-one counseling and facilitated groups in prisons across the country.

Many prison budgets have been slashed, and support for programming is often the first to be eliminated.  In response, the Lionheart Foundation conducted an outreach and free distribution initiative (6/11—12/12) supporting more than 2000 prison libraries, prison chaplaincies and substance abuse and recovery programs in prisons and jails across the country with 11,000+ Houses of Healing books for FREE.

Most people in prisons will come back into our communities, and it is critical for everyone that they come back with greater understanding and compassion and committed to a positive lifestyle. In fact, we hope that everyone will do their part: families and friends with loving support, communities with reentry programs, employers with job opportunities, etc., to help those returning to the community unmask their potential and live productive lives.

Judith Perry, Chief Operating Officer, The Lionheart Foundation

For more information about Lionheart’s Prison Program Click Here

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