MISSION, GOALS & VISION
Our Mission is to provide prisoners, prison staff, and prison volunteers, with the most effective, evidence-based tools for rehabilitation, self-transformation, and personal & professional development. In particular, we provide and promote the use of proven effective mindfulness-based interventions (MBI’s). Our dual focus is on transforming individual lives as well as transforming the corrections system as a whole in order to mitigate its extremely destructive impact on families, communities and the overall social capital of our society.
Our Goal is to establish these mindfulness-based interventions (MBI’s) as the evidenced-based norm in education, rehabilitation, drug and alcohol treatment, pre-release and post release programs for prisoners as well as in staff development and leadership training programs for corrections professionals. We believe in the power of mindfulness practice and the various mindfulness-based interventions (MBI’s) to change behaviors, heal and transform lives, and ultimately to prevent crime, reduce recidivism, and enhance community safety and wellbeing. We also believe in the power of mindfulness training to positively enhance performance, quality of life, and health and wellbeing among corrections professionals while at the same time creating healthier, more humane environments for prisoners and staff alike and ultimately achieving better outcomes for prisoners, staff and the community.
TRANSFORMATIVE CORRECTIONS: We envision correctional institutions and community corrections facilities and programs as safe, humane, and education-focused environments that genuinely support healing, rehabilitation, and personal transformation -- making use of the proven-effective mindfulness meditation and body-mind awareness practices of the world's great contemplative traditions and the research-based integration of these traditional practices with contemporary psychology and modern therapeutic methodologies. We envision a restorative and transformative criminal justice system that genuinely and intelligently focuses on public safety and harm reduction rather than punishment or revenge. We envision a significantly smaller and dramatically less expensive prison system that reserves secure facilities for providing humane, mindfulness-based treatment and rehabilitation for violent offenders and employs proven outcome-effective and cost-effective community corrections programs for non-violent offenders.
SUCCESSFUL REINTEGRATION: Through the success of our programs, we envision a faster and more successful reintegration of rehabilitated and transformed prisoners into the community and a gradual shift toward more reliance on high quality, mindfulness-based community corrections programs that keep individuals in the community – working, supporting their families, raising their children and paying taxes rather than becoming a tax burden to the community while housed in prisons that often do them more harm than good.
EMPOWERING COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP: We further envision a growing number of transformed prisoners and ex-prisoners emerging as community leaders and change agents working to heal and transform individuals and communities both inside and outside the walls of our correctional institutions, thus contributing significantly to the overall health and well-being of society.
We favor the healing and transformational paradigm of the Restorative and Transformative Justice models of criminal justice practice over the more punitive paradigm of the Retributive Justice model.
We support all prisoners, prison volunteers and corrections professionals regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religious persuasion, politics, or sexual orientation, according every individual the utmost respect and dignity.
We believe in spiritual, humanistic, restorative and empowering models for self-transformation and rehabilitation, preferring to “teach someone to fish vs. giving a fish alone.”
In 1985, Fleet Maull was incarcerated on drug charges. Prior to his incarceration, Fleet received extensive training as a meditation instructor under the guidance of Tibetan meditation master Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Shortly after arriving at the federal medical center, he started a Buddhist meditation group in the prison chapel which he led for 14 years, training hundreds of prisoners in contemplative spirituality and the practice of mindfulness-awareness meditation.
In the early 1980s, Buddhist prison ministry was all but nonexistent. Many Buddhist centers were beginning to receive letters of interest from prisons, and a number of these centers began forwarding these letters to Fleet. He quickly realized that he couldn’t begin to keep up with the growing demand for Buddhist prisoner support that was coming his way, and in 1989 founded Prison Dharma Network (PDN), a national nonprofit, nonsectarian support network for Buddhist prisoners, volunteers and prison staff.
Fleet directed PDN for 12 years from within the prison with the help of volunteers on the outside. PDN’s offices were initially established in Hartford, Connecticut and later moved to Boston, Massachusetts. In May 1999, PDN moved to Boulder, Colorado, and K. Vita Pires (Crisp) became Executive Director. PDN continues to serve the growing field of contemplative prison ministry, corresponding with and sending books to thousands of prisoners, supporting prison volunteers from the various contemplative traditions and assisting prison chaplains. PDN publishes resource materials and books and conducts training for prison volunteers. Thousands of people are involved in one way or another with PDN as part of a growing network or community, of Dharma practitioners, teachers, corrections professionals, activists, and volunteers within and without the prison walls. In 1997, PDN became a village in the interfaith Peacemaker Community and an affiliate of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship.
While incarcerated, Fleet also helped start the first hospice program in a correctional facility and served as a volunteer hospice caregiver at the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners for 11 years. This program trained both prisoners and staff to provide compassionate end-of-life care to terminally ill prisoners and their families. In 1991, Fleet founded the National Prison Hospice Association to promote this unique model of prison hospice care throughout the U.S. and internationally. Today there are over 20 prison hospice programs in state and federal prison medical facilities all across the country.
For more information on Fleet Maull’s path of transformation see Bernie Glassman’s book Bearing Witness.
In 2010, PDN relocated to Providence, Rhode Island and changed its name to Prison Mindfulness Institute (PMI). PMI is setting sights to impact the prison system in a much larger way, beyond the scope of a religion-based program. PMI initiated a new ten-year goal of establishing secular, mindfulness-based interventions (MBI’s) as best practices in mainstream correctional programming for both prisoners and corrections staff. 2012 was a watershed year. In just two years, we established four Path of Freedom programs in men’s and women’s facilities and a mindfulness-based staff training for correctional counselors and probation & parole officers in Rhode Island.
We established the Center for Mindfulness in Public Safety (a division of PMI) to promote the research, development, and implementation of Evidence Based Practices (EBP) supporting excellence, staff wellness, safe and humane environments, and successful outcomes in the fields of corrections and criminal justice, law enforcement, and other agencies involved in public safety. In particular, we provide research-based training and consulting for the implementation of Mindfulness-Based Interventions (MBI’s) like Mindfulness Training (MT), Mindfulness-Based Emotional Intelligence (MBEI), Mindfulness-Based Wellness & Resiliency (MBWR) and mindfulness-based Motivational Interviewing (MI).
In 2016 we moved our operations to Windhorse Hill Retreat Center in Deerfield Massachusetts and established the Engaged Mindfulness Institute for training and certifying those who wish to work with underserved populations as Mindfulness Teachers. We were the first organization certified by the IMTA, the national association for Mindfulness Teachers. To date we have trained and certified hundred of individuals who will be doing great work in the world.