Six sessions into the sequence, a prisoner-led Path of Freedom course in Washington state is hitting its stride. Prisoners who completed the course are receiving collaborative support and guidance from experienced POF facilitators from outside. As described below, the incarcerated leaders are initiating creative teaching methods that effectively connect with their peers. One participant said the recent Drama Triangle class was the best session yet. The experienced support facilitators agreed, judging that inmate-leaders are effectively creating an environment of safety and trust.
The inmate-leaders used a very effective visual aid. It was a fishing pole made with cardboard, string & with an 8 inch cardstock hook. Attached to the hook was a 3 dimensional, red “hot” button with “hot” printed on it in large letters. The rod was passed around the circle and all men participated in sharing one of their hot buttons. Passing the rod resulted in full engagement and enjoyment of the exercise.
The leaders used what a participant said as a lead in to the next key concept several times. The inmate-facilitator who led the meditation left 15 plus seconds between directions in his guided meditation. He used a subdued tone of voice which an inmate commented on afterward as being “really soothing.” Using a suggestion from the previous week’s debrief with the experienced facilitator, the leader asked, “how did that meditation go for you?”
While the experienced facilitators offer suggestions and the inmate-facilitators are receptive, the inmate-facilitators are also developing their own style. While the experienced facilitators offered to give signals when time was running out, the inmate-facilitators’ idea of following the emerging direction of the class instead of following the clock proved more effective.