“Buddha Would Probably Like Restorative Justice”

A guest post by Lorenn Walker, public health educator and longtime meditator. “I’m scared. He’s coming. I don’t know what to do,” says Colleen, crying while wringing tissue in her hands. “Breathe,” I tell her. Melissa, Colleen’s 29-year-old daughter, is sitting at the table with us. She silently stares ahead with flush red cheeks. Minutes later, two loud thuds vibrate the [...]

Watch “The Path of Freedom,” about meditation and prisoners, online now

The Path of Freedom is a short film that "enters the harsh environment of a Rhode Island men’s prison where a group of fifty inmates are transforming their lives through the practice of meditation. The film follows former inmate Fleet Maull as he visits prison to share his strategies for surviving on the inside. The film offers a rare glimpse into the inner lives of men [...]

Video: “Dhamma Brothers,” about meditation’s benefits for prisoners, to air on OWN this weekend

We enjoyed this piece in The Huffington Post by Jenny Phillips about her meeting with prisoners at Alabama's Donaldson Correctional Institute who were learning to meditate. Inspired by what she saw at the maximum security prison, Phillips helped coordinate a Vipassana meditation program at Donaldson, which she documented in her documentary film, The Dhamma Brothers. The film [...]

Hui Neng, the Preacher, and All My Sentient Beings

Prisoner (and Best Buddhist Writing contributor) Scott Darnell on what he's learned about compassion, for others and himself, during his time behind bars. As a Buddhist, I realize the importance of compassion and service to my fellow man. The problem is, I have to be careful not to confuse this with a desire for emotional approval when things aren't going well. When I'm not [...]

The Troy Davis letter

Yesterday, Rod Meade Sperry posted here about the then-pending execution of Troy Davis.  (See that post for an additional short update, detailing last night's events leading to the execution.) The world was watching, and today the world is talking. Among the voices that beg to be heard is Davis's itself. His final message to the world, via open letter, follows here. I want to [...]

Who pays the price of the death penalty? (Updated)

[UPDATE: (The below commentary was posted here at 4:06 PM EST on September 21. What follows in this paragraph is an update on the Troy Davis story as of September 21, 11:13 PM EST.) Shortly after the 7PM (EST) hour, the crowd began to cheer outside the prison where Troy Davis was awaiting his execution, and speculation began. Indeed, just moments later Amnesty International and [...]

Catching On: Finding peace in prison

Prisoner Timothy Burke on how Buddhist meditation has been helpful in finding peace -- and deepening his understanding of Christianity. This prison in southwest Ohio is of old design, laid out as one long corridor with housing blocks and secondary annexes attached to its sides. The main hallway, like an artery, feeds the branches: the chow hall, library, medical office, [...]

West Memphis Three hearing date set

As we reported in January, it was looking like Damien Echols and his two fellow members of the "West Memphis Three," Jamie Misskelley and Jason Baldwin, would be granted a new hearing. (Click here for some backstory on the case and its Buddhist connections.) It looks like that the time has come. Representatives of the WM3 are reporting today that "Lonnie Soury, a spokesman for [...]

Associated Press video: “Alabama Prisoners Turn to Meditation for Peace” (Updated)

[February 8th update: NPR has now run a piece on Vipassana meditation for Birmingham prisones. See/hear it here.] Fantastic to see more press coverage of the value of meditation to those in even the most dire of circumstances: See also: Prison Dharma: Meet the Buddhas who practice it — on both sides of the bars Video: Got “extra” Buddhist books? Here’s at least one great [...]

Update: West Memphis Three’s Damien Echols to get time on CNN, and, possible “second chance.” Plus: Exploring “Prison Dharma”

You may recall the story of Damien Echols, who, as a young man, was branded as the mastermind of what has come to be known as the "West Memphis Three." As teens, Echols and friends Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley were fingered as the killers behind the grisly murders of three young boys. Today, Echols is a practitioner of meditation who projects care and thoughtfulness in [...]