Is it possible that one weekend can change the world? Is it possible for one man to change the world? Hell, yes! This man has done the NWTA and this man has changed the world.
I sat with this man, Rob Albee, in my first iGroup, about six years ago. He is a very powerful and loving man. I honor his work and dedication to supporting all men, inside and out.
MKP Men Facilitate Growth in a Maximum Security Prison
The goal of the Inside Circle Foundation (http://www.insidecircle.org/) is to create environments in which prisoners can explore the issues in their lives that have prevented them from living up to their full potential as human beings. It does this as a non-denominational, non-sectarian spiritual outreach under the auspices of Chaplain Dennis Merino at California State Prison, Sacramento. It conducts weekly circles, and occasional four-day intensives. Its facilitators are from the ManKind Project. This excerpt is from a December 13, 2002, report by Executive Director Robert Allbee:
In the past we have pretty much operated under the radar screen of the administration's attention. We would disappear into the Chapel and come out four days later and as long as there were no custody problems, which there weren't, they pretty much left us alone. That all changed in August 2002 when the prison administrator came in during the four-day training.
In our trainings we have told the prison administrators and staff that we create an environment where a man can experience any or all of his emotions in a new and safe way. On the one or two occasions when someone has asked, "How do you handle anger and rage?" we have always responded, "Carefully." I could see them wince as they signed off on the training requests.
I have always seen that no one has had a problem with allowing these men to feel and experience emotions like sadness or fear or any of the other emotions, but with anger I could always sense the apprehension. But the truth is we have found safe ways to allow a man to go completely into his anger and rage and not hurt himself or anyone else. And sometimes it does include restraining a man. For most of these men it is almost always the first emotion that has to be dealt with, as it is anger that keeps all the other emotions bottled up inside the man in the first place.
I have always been apprehensive about what the administration would think and do if they truly knew and understood what we were doing in the groups and in the four-day trainings. We go as deep as a man needs to, to get to the core of his life, and I have been afraid that the administration might not trust us, as well as the man himself, going that deep.
So on the day when a prison administrator walked in, we were separated into four circles with approximately 15 men in each circle. In one circle there was a grief/death process going on with nearly everyone in tears. In another, men of every color were laughing and hugging each other. In the corner of the chapel one group had a man pinned as he raged on and on. The last circle was on break with everyone wandering in and out of the other processes or sharing one-on-one with each other, paying little or no attention to whatever was going on around them. One of the convicts, a huge 250 pound black man, assuming the administrator was a part of the team, came over to him and squeezed him in a giant body hug, just saying hello.
During a second visit on the final day, the convicts and the volunteers were doing a naming ceremony, honoring the work they had done and professing the gratitude everyone felt about being there. The irony was that during that very touching moment the administrator was called to deal with an inmate suicide that had taken place in 5 block. Such is prison.
Later, I was told that during the regular Monday morning staff meeting the administrator spoke for over half an hour about what he had witnessed during the training. He said that in the twenty some-odd years he had worked for the Department he had never witnessed anything so powerful and promising as the training we had provided. He said that if the Department was to seriously approach anything even remotely resembling rehabilitation that this was the way to do it. He spoke about making it available to every inmate inside CSP-Sac and how to make it available to other institutions around the state. In other words, he understands and supports the work we are doing 100% and the Warden does as well.
For more information contact: Inside Circle Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org.