Where as the motorcycle odyssey going from corner to corner of this country to speak of Women and Children in the Jails and Prisons of the Nation has involved more than a dozen men and women doing this and that.It has also involved a considerable amount of planning and the unanticipated spin off has been considerable and for me impressive. Help has come from quarters that I never anticipated as well as in some cases where I expected help it never materialized. Would like to mention some of the high points so that we are all aware of some of the places we have touched to date. My hope is that there will be a lot more such reports as I blog my way through 11,000 miles. These events are not in any particular order but just as they come to my mind.
I guess the first place to start with is tomorrow. Tomorrow at 1300, there is a full presentation to give to some of the staff and volunteers at the state mental hospital in Macclenny, Florida. The best that can come of this is to plant a seed. This hospital has just lost 70 positions off its staff from budget cuts this year.
Then Tuesday afternoon at 1300, I have an appointment with Rep. “Chuck” Chestnut, who is a member of the Florida legislature. I have been asked to give a full presentation at his office to him and his staff. Not exactly sure what will come of it but it is a step in the door of the legislature.
That same day at 1900, I will be giving a presentation to two members of the Psychiatric section of Suwannee CI to discuss MBSR for inmates of their CM units. CM is close management which equates to high security. This presentation was made possible by one of the staff that attended an earlier presentation in one of the churches in Gainesville.
I think that the single biggest impact will be in Lowell CI. Single out the ramp up phase as a cause would be a mistake but it could and should be said that they were concurrent and mutually reinforcing dynamics at work from various fronts. As a part of the ramp up phase, I gave a presentation to the student senate at Santa Fe College. I left them with the challenge of creating a mentor program for the women coming out of Lowell CI and going to College. At this point; conceptually, it would kick in once a student passed the disciplinary hearing. The ex offender would be asked if they wanted a couple of mentors to help them step through the remainders of the academic hurdles as well as getting started on the college’s computer programs, tutoring facilities, study guides and other assistance not provided by a faculty adviser. Well, this project has moved from a thought and now has faculty involvement and I expect it will become an issue in the fall agenda of the senate. At the beginning of the fall semester, I will again give another presentation for new members of the student senate as well as those that did not make the last one.
Concurrent but unrelated and now it is related. Made a suggestion to the Warden that we present a class called Success in College. It would be built on top of MBSR and Inward Journey both of have a POI located in this blog. The first objective of the class is to plant the reality of the seed and then give them thoughts and practice in strategies and techniques of working their way through college. This may sound a little far fetched but the reality is that those are the same strategies and techniques associated with working their way through life.
The warden countered with a request to teach it in the Work Camp which has from 400 to 500 inmates. I agreed to teach it there and asked that the same cohort get all three class to be presented on a Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The essence is that there will be two segments of this program which will include the annex and work camp.
Concurrent but not unrelated is that one of our sangha members who is a professor at Santa Fe College who has a program where he is recruiting other professors to visit Lowell CI for half a day a week to assist GED staff at Lowell CI by just tutoring inmates that need help in class. Hopefully, there are a couple of professors retiring this fall and have indicated a willingness to become active in the GED program at Lowell CI.
Made the suggestion to the warden that maybe by January we could not only fold the GED effort in the work camp with the courses in MBSR, Inward Journey and Success in College into a low level character dorm. Then funnel those going to Alachua into Santa Fe College and its mentoring program. Tied to all of this is getting a yoga program off the ground for Monday and Tuesday mornings which would give the potential character dorm a five day a week program of self-development in the morning and GED in the afternoon. All of which would be in a dorm free of distracting and disruptive elements. There are a lot of variables in play and who knows what will happen. However, the warden has said that she would put a member of her staff in charge of put whatever comes together at the end of the summer together in as good a program as we could.
Yes, this may or may not come to be but the truth is we are far ahead of where we were when it started. Anything that helps get those and their kids to the starting blocks of life is worth whatever time and effort it takes. This is the way it is today.