My Time at San Quentin (part 1)

I had an idea one day as I was driving past San Quentin prison. Over the years I had seen bits and pieces of different documentary style TV shows based in prisons. All were distinctly negative and had an air of hopelessness. So many modern trends are based in prison culture; from the baggy pants, current lingo, rap music, and even value systems and social customs.

So, I thought if prison-culture can exert such an influence that it permeates all of our culture, why not create a more positive programming concept.

My original concept was to have a group of inmates do a “Cleanse”. I know from personal experience, as well as the accounts of others, what a powerful and life changing experience cleansing can be. I thought how amazing it would be to see a group of inmates go through that process, and for them to be able to share their experience with others in a beneficial way.

I told my idea to a friend, and he mentioned it to another friend; one who happens to be a documentary filmmaker AND teaches yoga at San Quentin. She introduced me to the program directors of the TRUST at San Quentin. That is how I wound up as a facilitator of a nutrition program inside the walls of this maximum security prison.

The group of men I work with run a program in which they teach a comprehensive curriculum to other inmates centered around turning personal liabilities into assets and gaining practical life-skills. The knowledge they acquire and the shift of values they experience has the potential to impact the parts of society that need it the most. Some of these men may never get out to put what they have learned to personal use, but it benefits everyone, regardless. Of the men that do go from the TRUST program back out to rejoin society, many go directly into working with rehabilitative and youth-at-risk programs, teaching others what it took them a life sentence to learn.

And this is my larger goal; to reach those who can bring the word and facilitate change.

More to come….

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