Making the Most of Your Time Behind Bars

17/04/19 0

Old prison solitary confinement cell block.

Starting in 2018, through another 3-year Innovative Grant from the CA Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation, The Lionheart Foundation has been delivering a program titled “Making Time Count: Making the Most of Your Time Behind Bars” to incoming prisoners in the San Quentin Reception Center where they spend their first 2-6 months. The program introduces them to about half of the Houses of Healing curriculum. Making Time Count classes accommodate 15 men at a time from each of the two “dorms” where it is offered. Currently each dorm has about 75 men on the waiting list. As a result of the challenges of facilitating in the transient Reception Center and the large demand, we are now translating the program into a self-study program which will give every prisoner who is motivated to “make their time count” the opportunity to participate.

About the Book Houses of Healing

Lionheart’s Houses of Healing Program in Solitary Confinement

17/04/19 0

The HOH Self-Study Course for Prisoners in Solitary: Although the CDCR (CA Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation) grant that funded the self-study program for those in solitary ended in 2017, The Lionheart Foundation continues to offer this course to prisoners in CA’s solitary units both in Pelican Bay and CSP-Corcoran. In total about 600 prisoners in CA solitary units (otherwise referred to as SHUs – Special Housing Units) have registered for the program. Feedback continues to be outstanding.

Power Source Parenting for Teen Parents

15/04/19 0

The Lionheart Foundation’s curriculum, Power Source Parenting (PSP), is designed to give teen parents the guidance and skills they need to become loving, effective parents and raise healthy children.  PSP is a practical, accessible, and innovative book/curriculum written for teen and young adult parents and the professionals who support them.

The book, Power Source Parenting: Growing Up Strong and Raising Healthy Kids, is the centerpiece of the project.  Among topics included in the book are:

  • Creating a healthy attachment to one’s child
  • Coping with the stress of parenting in adaptive ways
  • Implementing positive discipline practices
  • Managing three generational living
  • Establishing healthy relationships with partners
  • Breaking cycles of domestic violence
  • Bringing awareness to patterns of high-risk behavior and it’s effects on one’s children
  • A section for fathers that addresses becoming a father in the wake of a fatherless upbringing and helping young fathers identify possible contributions not contingent upon finances.

Power Source Parenting can be read by young parents on their own, or the concepts, exercises, and numerous first-hand stories by young parents can be introduced and explored in facilitated parenting groups or during individual home visits, or counseling sessions.

Special pricing and free shipping (with the U.S.) is available throughout April 2019.

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Evidenced-based Power Source Program

18/03/19 0

The Power Source Program was created to empower youth at-risk with the social, emotional, and behavioral skills associated with paths of healthy development and permanent disengagement from the prison pipeline.

This evidence-based and widely embraced program helps adolescents learn effective strategies to manage challenging emotions, reduce engagement in interpersonal violence, heal from histories of trauma, discover alternative coping strategies to substance abuse, while equipping them with the skills that promise success in school, the workplace, and in the larger world.

Recently, The Power Source Program, was accepted into, an evidence-based repository which serves as a clearinghouse of information about what works and what has been identified as promising in justice programs and practices. The project, overseen by the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice, reviewed the existing research literature to identify “effective, quality programs and practices in the fields of criminal justice, juvenile justice, and crime victimization to serve as evidence-based models for the field.”

In addition to being listed in Crime Solutions, The Power Source program will also be included in the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s (OJJDP’s) Model Programs Guide.

Lionheart’s Power Source Program / Promising Justice Program, Practice

13/03/19 0

In March of 2019 The Power Source Program was accepted into, an evidence-based repository which serves as a clearinghouse of information about what works and what has been identified as promising in justice programs and practices. The project, overseen by the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice, reviewed the existing research literature to identify “effective, quality programs and practices in the fields of criminal justice, juvenile justice, and crime victimization to serve as evidence-based models for the field.”

In addition to being listed in Crime Solutions, The Power Source program will also be included in the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s (OJJDP’s) Model Programs Guide.

Social Security Disability Benefits and Prison

29/10/18 0

Submitted by:  Eric Minghella

If you or someone you love is incarcerated and on Social Security disability benefits, it’s likely your benefits will be affected while you’re serving your sentence. Thousands of people on Social Security disability serve prison sentences just like the able-bodied population, so the Social Security Administration (SSA) has resources available for people on disability benefits who go to prison. Here’s how your monthly benefits will be affected when you serve time:
Do You Keep Receiving Benefits?
You will not continue to receive benefits if you’re in prison for 30 days or longer, but it’ll be easy to reinstate benefits once you’re released. Those on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) qualify for rapid reinstatement as soon as they’re released, so long as the status of your disability hasn’t changed. Those on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will also be eligible for rapid reinstatement, so long as they weren’t incarcerated for over a year. After 12 months, you’ll need to reapply for SSI once you’re released.
The good news is if you’re on SSDI benefits and you have a dependent family member receiving additional benefits on your behalf, such as a spouse or a minor child, they’ll continue to receive their monthly payments while you’re in prison.
What About Health Insurance?
Most people on SSDI or SSI will be eligible for Medicare or Medicaid respectively. Those on Medicare Part A will maintain health insurance eligibility without any interruptions. Those on Medicare Part B will lose Part B of their benefits unless they continue to pay their monthly premiums.
Medicaid is a little trickier because it’s awarded on a state-by-state basis. You’ll need to contact your local Medicaid office to ensure you’ll remain enrolled in the plan, but you can get a referral form to provide to your local social services office from the SSA’s website.
When Can I Reapply?
The best time to reapply to get your disability benefits reinstated is as soon as you receive your prison release records. You may receive this paperwork up to 60 days before you’re actually released from prison. While you won’t be able to receive benefits before you’re released, you can still apply with the release paperwork so the SSA can get started on processing your claim. This is a great way to ensure that your benefits will start as soon as you’re released. If you don’t have a prerelease agreement, you can still start the process as soon as you think you’ll be released.
To get started with reapplying for Social Security disability after you’re released from a correctional facility, you can call the SSA toll free at 1-800-772-1213 or reapply online through your My Social Security Account. A family member can also make an appointment to apply on your behalf at your closest Social Security office. Good times to call the SSA are first thing in the morning (7-8 A.M.), as wait times become very long throughout the day.
Resources Found Via:

Links to guided meditations by Robin Casarjian, The Lionheart Foundation.

15/10/18 0

Meditation is the quiet motor underlying all of the Lionheart Foundation’s social emotional literacy programs to prisoners, highly at risk youth and at risk teen parents nationwide. Lionheart programs are offered in prisons, juvenile institutions, schools and community programming.

Click on the link below to access two guided meditations by Robin Casarjian, Executive Director of the Lionheart Foundation, Boston, MA.




Program for Prisoners in Solitary Confinement

12/03/18 0

“Houses of Healing (HOH) “We’ve heard about the good results the Houses of Healing course has had in other prisons in boosting morale, lowering violence and promoting development.” -Co-chairs, Spring Creek Restorative Justice Initiative, Alaska

HOH Self-study Program for prisoners in solitary/segregation/SHU: With support from the CA Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) “Innovative Grant Program”, the HOH Self-study Program for Prisoners in Solitary was delivered to 464 men in three SHUs (Special Housing Units) otherwise referred to as isolation units.

The program was offered in Pelican Bay, CSP-Corcoran, and CA Correctional Institution. The following is a summary of the feedback we received, to date, from the 160 participants who completed the course evaluation.

 93% of respondents reported being able to remain in control of their behavior when upset (“most of the time” or “almost always”), since taking the course, compared to 18% before the course, with 90% of individual respondents reporting improvement.

 86% of respondents reported being able to handle anger in a positive way, (‘most of the time” or “almost always”), since taking the course, compared to 15 % before the course, with 93% of individual respondents reporting improvements.

 91% of respondents reported using healthy ways to make themselves feel better when upset, (“most of the time” or “almost always”), since taking the course, compared to 13% before the course, with 89% of individual respondents reporting improvement.

 95% of respondents reported feeling hopeful about life (“most of the time” or “almost always”), since taking the course, compared to 29% before the course, with 83% of individual respondents reporting improvement.

 95% of respondents reported the ability to take responsibility for their actions, (“most of the time” or “almost always”), since taking the course, compared to 30% before the course, with 86% of individual respondents reporting improvement.

 Among the emotional regulation techniques taught in the course are meditation and yoga. 78% reported that they meditated between three times a week to almost every day.

 100% of respondents stated that they would recommend the Houses of Healing Self-study Program to others.

Lionheart, in conjunction with criminal justice professor Dr. Carolyn Petrosino (Bridgewater State University), is now conducting formal research on the self-study program with new participants in the CDCR. We expect to complete and submit the findings to professional journals in Fall 2018

Learn more about Houses of Healing and Lionheart’s Prison Project.  Click here.


Power Source Parenting: A program for teen parents from the Lionheart Foundation

04/09/17 0

The Lionheart Foundations’s Power Source Parenting is a cutting edge program designed to give teen parents the guidance and skills they need to be loving, effective parents and raise healthy children. The centerpiece of the program is the book, Power Source Parenting: Growing Up Strong and Raising Healthy Kids and The Power Source Parenting Facilitator’s Manual written by Dr. Bethany Casarjian, Clinical Director of Lionheart’s youth projects and co-author of Power Source.

This theory-driven  intervention provides the opportunity to impact the lives of thousands of teen parents as well as their children and future generations. There are a number of excellent parenting curricula, but none that are, like Power Source Parenting, skill-based in terms of young mothers’ own emotional regulation.  In Power Source Parenting young parents learn highly effective skills to manage stress and anger, while reducing risk-behavior such as substance abuse and interpersonal violence in order to be more emotionally available and nurturing parents. Taking control of one’s own emotional responses is the first step in modeling and teaching these skills to one’s child.

Power Source Parenting draws on well-established interventions such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and Mindfulness Training, as well as proven parenting programs such as Parent Management Training.

In keeping with Lionheart’s goal to establish its curricula as evidence-based, clinical staff have completed a pilot study with teen parents in group homes under the auspices of the MA Department of Children and Families.  Results from this study are complete and very promising.  Consequently, our research team at NYU was awarded another grant from the National Institutes of Health to further research Power Source Parenting.

Teen mothers who participated in the pilot reported significant increases in positive parenting attitudes including appropriate developmental and parenting expectations, empathic awareness of their child’s needs, and decreased endorsement of corporal punishment.  The young mothers demonstrated gains in parenting sensitivity and attunement, greater levels of parenting competence, increased levels of attachment to their children, greater levels of perceived support from their partners, and improved knowledge of parent/child roles.

Our agency has been providing case management and support services to adolescent parents and their children for over 22 years.  We have reviewed and utilized numerous resource materials over this period,  including books, brochures, pamphlets, videos, DVDs, etc.  I have never come across a resource that has been so universally accepted and embraced by my staff as Power Source Parenting.
– Director, Adolescent and Family Services, Fresno, CA

I am as happy with this parenting book as I was when receiving the Power Source materials!  These resources have basically become the only materials we utilize.  I am currently working with 10 high-risk teens both male and female who are expecting babies this year.  Thank you for making these resources available to providers…
– Phoenix Treatment Center, Iowa

“Missing Out”. Excerpts from Lionheart’s Power Source Parenting

28/08/17 0


Once I got pregnant, things really changed with my friends.  Maybe they thought I was slowing them down.  They couldn’t smoke in the car or around me.  I stopped drinking so I couldn’t party with them anymore.  It’s not that they didn’t want to be there for me, but I just wasn’t as much fun for them to hang around with.  Also they got pissed off because they thought teachers let me get away with a lot at school because I was pregnant.  Everyone was treating me different.  They never called me to go to clubs because they thought that my big belly would chase guys away.  Their families told them not to hang out with me because I was a bad influence.  Once the baby came, things got even worse.  I couldn’t go out ever because I couldn’t find a sitter.  Then they almost never came around.”   Lisa, 18 years old

One of the hardest things to deal with about becoming a teenage parent is feeling like you’re missing out on the best part of being young — hanging out with friends, having fun, being free.  If you have a baby, you know that it’s almost impossible to do those things like you used to.  And that can be a hard pill to swallow.  Lots of things get in the way, like finding someone to watch the baby.  If you mom is helping you take care of your child, she might feel resentful if you are going out to hang out with friends.  She might feel that it’s your responsibility to stay home and take care of your child.  You probably have less money to spend when you go out than before you had a baby.  Babies take a lot of money to raise.  And most people taking care of children all day are sometimes too tired to even thin of going out.

NOt going out can make you’re missing out and can even lead to feelings of resentment toward the baby.  All parents need to hang out with people their own age.  Especially young parents.  You probably won’t go out as much and do all the things you did before you had the baby.  But it’s important not to isolate yourself from other people your age.  Being with friends is important.  It’s a change to connect and refuel and have a little fun.  So what can you do about it?  Here are a few ideas that other young parents have tried.

  • See if you can find activities your friends are into that you can take the baby along for, like going to a park or the mall for a short time.  (But be realistic.  If you have an active two-year-old, the mall might not be a good choice.  He’ll want to run around and you might just be chasing him rather than hanging with friends.
  • Explain to your mother that you understand what your responsibilities are, but that you’d really appreciate it if she could watch the baby for just two or three hours a week so you could go out.  (Find something cheap to do if you do go out so you’re not broke for the next week.)
  • Swap babysitting with a friend.  You watch her child for three hours one week, she’ll pay you back the next week.  Pick someone you can trust so the baby is safe.  Make sure the street goes two ways so you don’t get walked on — doing all the sitting and getting nothing back.
  • If the baby’s father is also a caretaker, work it out with him so that a few hours a week you get to get out and enjoy yourself and give him the same opportunity.
  • Make new friends — especially new friends with kids.  Talking to other people going through the same things you are is important.  They know the deal.  They can relate.  Plus, you’ll be able to hang out together and do things that your kids can do.  Rather than going clubbing, you can hang out at the park.  Instead of partying, you can bust open some Play Doh.  If this sounds lame or like a letdown, it beats being alone.

I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have Jackie (my best friend).  I met her at a parenting group and we’ve hung out ever since.  Before that I didn’t really have no one.  She really gets what I’m going through with my baby and my baby daddy.  We chill when we ain’t working or going to school.  It helps me a lot just to know that I have someone who understands me.  Shana, 16 years old



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