There are two weekly gatherings of the Compassionate Ocean Sangha. There is also a meditation session offered on Wednesday morning, and single-day and multi-day retreats.

We have volunteers at Monroe Correctional Complex of the WA state prison system, and at King County Jail in Seattle. In addition a number of our members correspond with inmates around the country.

Rev. Genko Kathy Blackman

Since 1998 the Center has provided instruction in the practice of Zen meditation to inmates in federal, state and county facilities throughout North Central Florida. Currently, twelve prisons and jails participate in the prison outreach program, in which approximately 400 inmates are served annually. Through instruction and study of Zen meditation that emphasizes high personal standards, participants are given the tools to cultivate a strong, life-affirming self-image that looks beyond the stigma of “convict” to view themselves as individuals with much to offer others and the community as a whole.

Our programs can be divided into five areas:

Secular, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) groups and retreats.
Zen groups
Possible residency at the Gateless Gate Zen Center for individuals who have exhibited a strong commitment to the practice and to educational efforts.
Inter-faith meditation.
The death row ministry, which consists of individual visits and counseling

Prisons Served: Federal Correctional Complex in Coleman

Kinloch C. Walpole
Greater Hartford Sangha

The Greater Hartford Sangha was founded in 1999 following a retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh at the Omega Institute in New York State. The Sangha also is involved in various engaged Buddhism efforts. We volunteer to teach meditation and writing in several Connecticut prisons, including MacDougall prison, Osborn prison, York prison and Cheshire prison.

Bill Williams

Heart of the Blue Ridge Sangha is a mindfulness practice group in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh, in Roanoke, VA. We are an ongoing PDN supporting member.

We have partnered with a local organization (Total Action Against Poverty) in Roanoke to provide a mindfulness program at the Roanoke Regional Jail. This program began in December, 2010.


Location:  Austin,Texas
Description: INSIDE MEDITATION is an umbrella organization to support and inform volunteers who teach meditation, Buddhism, Buddhist psychology, and Yoga in prisons near Austin, Texas. This project started at Austin Zen Center in 2002 but has expanded to include members of other Austin sanghas.
Teachers have come from AZC, the Shambala Center, Plum Blossom Sangha, Appamada (formerly Ordinary Mind), and Dharma Yoga. We maintain an elist and meet on an irregular basis. We also print copies of a meditation booklet called Doing Your Time with Peace of Mind. All volunteers are welcome to distribute copies of this booklet to their inmate students.
Prisons Served:  Lockhart Prison (TDCJ), Travis County Correctional Facility at Del Valle,  Bastrop Federal Correctional Institution.
Our website: austinzencenter.org
Outside Meditation is a program for ex-offenders living in the Austin, TX area. Outside Meditation is an extension of Inside Meditation, a program for the incarcerated, while in jail or prison in the Austin, TX area. They meet and both start/continue meditation practice on a weekly basis. Visit our website: http://outsidemeditation.org

Established in 1974, the Madison Zen Center is an affiliate of the Rochester Zen Center (RZC), founded by Roshi Philip Kapleau (1912 – 2004).

Formal sittings are held six days a week.  Sunday sittings include a recorded Zen talk, called a teisho.  All Day Sittings are held monthly.  Two-day retreats are held three times a year and are lead by Roshi Bodhin Kjolhede or one of his senior students. Longer retreats are held at Chapin Mill, the RZC’s country retreat center in Batavia, NY.

From 2003-2013 Madison Zen Center led a group at the Oxford WI Federal Penitentiary, until all the members of the group that came to meditate were eventually transferred or released. There are not currently any on-going Prison Dharma projects, but they are welcome to facilitate if there is interest.

Rick Stirr

Monthly visits to six state institutions, bi-monthly visits to two others, books are provided and correspondence maintained. Three institutions have full programs of zazen, kinhin, service, dharma talk, and discussion. Tonen O’Connor no longer visits the prisons herself, but is still the main contact and organization person responsible for sending teachers to prisons. She also organizes the monthly “Sosaku” newsletter, produced by inmates.



Tonen O’Connor

New program, currently raising the level of practice from alone in cell to group practice with a teacher. Programs at Bowling Green and Potosi prisons, in the process of getting approved for all Missouri state prisons.

This is a collaborative effort by the Missouri Zen
Center and five other organizations: Mid-America Buddhist Association, the Peacemaker Community, the Rime Buddhist Center and Monastery, the Vipassana Buddhist Church and Center for Buddhist Development, and the St. Louis Insight Meditation Group.

Prisons Served: Bowling Green and Potosi

Thay Kobai Scott Whitney is the spiritual director and conducts meditation classes in the coastal, Grays Harbor area of Washington as well as leading retreats around the northwest. He especially works with marginalized people who do not feel comfortable in other spiritual communities: people in 12-Step programs, those recovering from prison or homelessness, domestic violence or loss of a loved one.

Thay Kobai Scott Whitney
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