What We Do:
1. We help inmates create their own rehabilitative programs.
2. Assign them a mentor from the outside world so they can get support for writing - as a creative tool, as a necessary educational tool - and as a way to examine what led to becoming incarcerated.
3. Supply notebooks, pens, and educational resources
4. Prepare prisoners to go before the Parole Board with their skills and journals when they're ready to be released.
One Inmate Explains Why They Need Mentors From The Outside World
A Mentorship Writing Program
"The most important part of rehabilitation is helping us identify the factors in our lives that formed the seeds of our criminality – so we understand the huge mistakes we made and don't repeat them.
This work involves thinking deeply about what happened in your life and the choices you made. To honestly do that, you need the guidance and support of trusted mentors because many in here want us to stick with our old ways.
Most of us have lost family support, or never really had a family to start with. We feel totally isolated - with no emotional grounding.
Inside, guards and counselors are not interested in helping inmates get into the programs that facilitate this kind of thinking. Why would they? It works against their own interests to keep the prisons full - more overtime.
They know that without rehabilitation, we will make the same mistakes again and return to prison for even longer sentences. According to the National Institute of Justice, within five years of release, about 3/4 of those released were rearrested. Some guards feel as stuck as the prisoners -- why should they help us to prepare for a better life when we get out if they can't?
Transforming Lives was designed by Cynthia Kling, two other prisoners, and myself. We know how hard it it is to ask for help because of how demeaned the system makes us feel and ways for motivated inmates to do this thinking and writing -- and get support while doing it -- with your help. The goal is to develop full productive lives. This is the way we all want to live, with dignity.
incarcerated 20 years ago
for 31 years to life.
Individual Citizens Helping Inmates and Their Families
Transforming Lives Was Created To Help Inmates So They Don't Get Stuck In Prison's Revolving Doors