Path of Freedom
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hi Every one [♪sustained note♪] [flag flapping in breeze] [Path of Freedom] [♪♪] [prisoners chattering] [♪♪] [female speaker] This is a tough guy world, and we have to control all of their movement and their behavior [Roberta Richman - Rhode Island Dept. of Corrections] because that's the way you keep an institution safe for everybody who lives in it. [♪♪] We have everybody here--murderers and rapists, sex offenders, drug addicts--everybody. [1 out of every 100 Americans is currently behind bars] My name is Dennis. I'm 52 years old. I'm serving a 15-year sentence for assaulting my wife. My name is Louis, 35. I sold narcotics [clears throat] since I was about 13 or so. My name is Juan. I'm 34 years old. I'm here for second degree murder. Yeah. Sadly, this is my charge. My name is Celine. I'm 39. I'll be 40 soon. I was given a life term. [♪♪] A lot of times what lands people in prison [Fleet Maull - Prison Mindfulness Institute] and what brings them back is a lack of good problem-solving skills and good communication skills. [♪♪] [Richman] Fleet approached us asking if he could do some work in here. We were challenged. Our union wanted to know how we could possibly bring an ex-offender in. [Maull] I served 14½ years on a 25-year, no parole sentence. Hello. [♪♪] Having served 14 years boosts his credibility-- boosts his credibility with inmates. How's your week been? >>It's good. [Maull] Yeah? Good. What's up? Yeah. Hey. Welcome. When I got locked up, I really hit a wall of just seeing the craziness of my life path up until then and the incredible selfish decisions I'd been making. My son was 9 years old. He was going to grow up without his dad. And I was just so deeply full of remorse and regret that I just literally started practicing meditation like my hair was on fire. So I became extremely motivated to turn my life around. [♪♪] And so I was living the life of this prison monk. [♪♪] I was sourcing a meditation group twice a week in the chapel. [♪♪] I started receiving letters from prisoners while I was in prison. I had published some articles; people knew about me out in the world a little bit, and they started sending some of these letters to me thinking I would know what to do with them. I worked in the education department, and I had access to a copy machine. I would copy articles out of books, and I'd put together a little thing and I'd send it off to a prisoner. So it started off that way, and I decided it was a much bigger deal than I could do from my prison cells. I think we have a co-creative relationship with our life. We can't control other people, we don't control life, but is there some relationship between what we put out and what comes back? Freedom before I came here was just another word. I had never been to prison before. All you know is what the media and the movies say about prison-- "Take care of yourself, man." "Somebody's going to try to take your manhood or something." You know what I mean? I'm thinking I'm going to come in here and fight the world. [Maull] In a prison like Moran, there's a serious conflict waiting around any corner. It's an environment where people's worst behaviors are just right there just under the surface. [♪♪] When I first came in, I fought with officers, would beat up anyone, would do the unthinkable just because. [Dennis] It's a vicious cycle because once you come to prison your life just keeps tumbling, tumbling, tumbling, and it's like a never-ending wall that won't stop building unless you find some way to get over that wall or at least in front of it. [Richman] What circumstances did they have to survive on the street to bring them to where they are now? Do we want to save those lives, or do we want to discard them? The crimes I committed, I brought shame to not only myself but to those who I love. So I'm just really trying to do something to get out of that cycle. Somebody's given us an opportunity just to meditate and connect ourselves, and that's golden. So sit up with that good posture, just rest your hands on your legs, and just take a moment to just feel. [♪♪] [Richman] I've always thought that the people who survive are so much stronger than I could ever be. I asked Fleet how he survived and thrived the way he has. He credits meditation for having given him the strength to live his life in prison and come out not as much the worse for wear as most people do. I don't have a release date. So I can only go home when they decide I can. So I learned to live day by day, and that helped me to deal with prison, and I could only do that being in the moment, being in the now. [♪♪] It's like if I don't like what's going on, what can I do to shift it? If I don't like the relationship I have with my boss or with one of the COs or something, could I approach that person in a different way? Can I get creative about what I'm doing to bring about a shift in the way things are-- in other words, owning my own situation. So how do you resolve that? I take a breath and then [chuckles] I step back. Really, you have to... [Maull] Then suddenly get that there's this whole thing there that they thought was who they are. That's the only reality they knew. Suddenly they get to step outside of that a little bit. You just see the lights go on. It's like this sudden illumination. It's like a mini enlightenment of sorts. And that's very powerful. That's what keeps me coming. The reality of it is I'm living life, and meditation it has brought a new perspective in the way that it gave me like a tool to really look inside myself and change the way I am. [Richman] People don't understand the value of what they call the soft stuff, and I sometimes think without the soft stuff, no matter how much hard stuff you have, you're bound to fail. You can live your life. You can be yourself. You can show others that this isn't a place to breed a better criminal; this could actually be a place to breed a better person. You're here because the way that you were didn't work. So why not be better? [prisoners chattering] [Richman] The people in prison are us. They're not monsters. And more importantly, whether we want them to or not, they're getting out. So do you want them to come out angrier and meaner and more dangerous than they were when they came in, or do you want to do whatever you can to change their behavior while they're here? We need people to see and experience prisoners stepping out of that culture and doing something transformative with their lives, and then people will start to have faith, people will see people coming back to their community and they realize these are human beings and that human beings' lives have value and they're not expendable. [♪♪] [This year 700,000 people will return home from prison] [♪♪] [directed by Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee - produced by Dorothee Royal-Hedinger] [cinematography by Elias Koch - edited by Adam Loften - sound recording by Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee] [music by H. Scott Salinas - sound mix by D. Chris Smith] [www.globalonenessproject.org]
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