Hope everyone is doing well. We have been doing MBSR programs with five day retreats at Lowell CI for 18 months now. It is so easy to start thinking in terms of cycles and numbers and to forget that we are dealing with human beings that want nothing other than to get a meaningful life. It is so easy to let them all blur it all together into a meaningless mass of statistics.
This whole effort is about helping one person at a time that wants to be helped. It is a self-selected group of inmates that come to the program to grow. Know that get not the first outward benefit from the institution. There is no gain time, special foods or treatment. Many arrange their shifts so they can attend the program. Others will come from such jobs as night baker getting off of shift at 8 am to be at class starting at 0900.
There is a like group in number as in the Lowell group sitting this week at Gadsden. They too will get no special considerations and also there will be no graduation photo for them.
So, in the first two weeks of June 2008, there will be 90 women sitting five days as one of the first steps to getting a meaningful life. The assistant warden for programs at Gadsden came by to see me at the end of the day to remind me that at the end of the next cycle we will be sitting down to discuss character base dorms. She also, mentioned that she had some very new ideas for the groups she wants to have go through the MBSR program. One of them is to have a group that has six months or less to do prior to release. In other words, she is thinking of making it into part of a transition package to civilian life. I think this came from our efforts to make the program more meaningful where we have a class on transitions and how MBSR will support it.
However, there are some very stark realities facing these programs. The Gadsden program alone requires over $200 worth of gas alone over cycle in travel expenses with gas being $4 a gallon. Each MBSR cycle requires close to $500 worth of printed material such as work books and etc. Then there is the re-entry program we are trying to get off the ground. This is not only going to cost money up front but also going to require resources such as furniture and kitchen ware.
As you look at these faces, think in terms that most likely there will only be 5 or so women there that don’t have children. Think in terms that children of inmates have a 60 or so percent chance of going to prison. Think in terms that eventually 95% are going to end up back on the street. They can come back as women capable of getting a meaningful life and becoming assets to the community that pay taxes or they came out as dysfunctional as dysfunctional citizens destined to live off of welfare and be tax liabilities.
Know I wish each and every one of you well. Do good and take care.
Yours in the dharma