Several Sangha members are involved in DRZC’s prison program, as volunteers, adults in custody, and prison grads. Many DRZC members don’t have a clear sense of who these folks are, how the program works, or what involvement in it might look like, so every few years we like to report back. Grads and volunteers talked about the rich gifts available in this experience. Genko and Gyoshi facilitated.
Due to technical glitch, some of Genko’s introduction was not included in the recording. So here is text from the first bit of it.
We wanted to start with Kyogen’s voice, when he introduced a similar panel in 2012. He was the one who gave Getsushin a letter from a inmate on Oregon’s death row almost a quarter-century ago, and started our prison program. Getsushin ran the program for several years, and finally stepped down into retirement. Genko and Gyoshi are now the co-facilitators.
At this point, volunteers go in to
- Oregon State Penitentiary (OSP) in Salem
- Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville – which is actually 3 prisons, and we go
in to the two women’s facilities, Medium Security and Minimum Security
- Eastern Oregon in Pendleton and Two Rivers in Umatilla
- Columbia River Correctional Institution here in Portland
- Maclaren in Woodburn, a youth facility
- Multnomah County Inverness Jail here in Portland, seeing both men and women
All of these have volunteers going in every week or every other week for 1-2 hours.
What we bring in to these meetings
- Silence, zazen
- A way to be seen and heard
- Assurance that someone values and cares about them
- Dharma discussion
- Tools for transformation
- Assurance that transformation is possible