The Coming Home Project (CHP) offers programs that serve incarcerated individuals or persons recently released from prison. SnowFlower members volunteering in CHP frequently become deeply committed to this vital work.
Going inside: CHP members enter prisons and jails to provide a compassionate presence to prisoners. As part of that effort, they support and facilitate secular meditation and mindfulness to groups of prisoners. Besides serving the general population in correctional institutions, CHP started the first program in the U.S. to systematically provide meditation support for prisoners in solitary confinement. CHP members have also tutored prisoners studying for their GED exams, participated in Restorative Justice programs, facilitated spiritual talking circles, and taught nonviolent communication skills to both men and women inmates.
Going outside: CHP participants work outside of prisons to advocate for reforming the criminal justice system and to support recently released individuals.
SnowFlower is an active member of MOSES, the Madison chapter of the statewide faith-based coalition, WISDOM, which advocates for prison reform, including working to end the use of solitary confinement in our state prisons and jails. To support these efforts, and to restore dignity and safety to the entire community, CHP members work to make our state’s sentencing rules and laws more just and humane, increase treatment alternatives to incarceration, stop crimeless revocations back to prison, and remove barriers to employment for previously incarcerated individuals returning to our communities.
Sangha members also participate in Circles of Support, a program sponsored by Madison Urban Ministry to support men and women recently released from correctional institutions as they seek to re-integrate into the community. CHP volunteers meet weekly with these men and women and offer guidance and their sympathetic presence.
Commitment: Some CHP activities require a weekly commitment, while other CHP work can be less structured and more infrequent. Training is offered. CHP participants can also earn Time Bank hours with the Dane County Time Bank.
For more CHP information or to volunteer, contact these SnowFlower members:
- Assistance for the incarcerated: David Haskin, Steven Spiro, or Walt Keough.
- Prison reform advocacy and Circles of Support: Carol Rubin, Kate Edwards.
The Coming Home Project recently gained wider attention thanks to an article penned by SnowFlower member David Haskin that appeared in the Autumn 2015 edition of The Mindfulness Bell. An electronic link to the article, “Coming Home, Compassionate Presence in Prison,” will be provided once it is available.