Why did you incorporate yoga into the Success Dorm program? Bringing in programs that offer inmates a different way of looking at the world is important. We need to show them possibilities so they can make better choices. Yoga is an excellent way to do that because it teaches self-discipline and an understanding of body, mind, and soul.
What changes did you observe in the inmates who participated in Success Dorm? I saw a calmness in them—even in the way they approached a conflict in the yard or spoke to other inmates. An inmate once told me, "People think that we made a decision to commit a crime, but really it's a lack of a decision." In most cases, people commit crimes out of impulse—while they're high or angry. Programs that teach inmates to reflect rather than react are very helpful to change behavior.
Will yoga and meditation be included in a program for the California state prison system? We're looking at programs that have had success in other parts of the world, and bringing those programs into our prisons. Yoga is one of them. The San Francisco county jail uses meditation with great success, and there are programs in India also, so we're very open to that. If somebody comes forward and offers to head a pilot program for meditation in our prisons, we will certainly open the doors and allow that to happen.
Why do you love your job? It's a challenge. There are 13 million ex-offenders in the United States and 1.5 million children with one or both parents in prison. We have to be a positive influence when they come through our prisons. I know that if we do good work we can affect our communities and the children of offenders in a positive way. Visit Yoga In Prisons for more about yoga in prisons.