Project Description:


The Inside Circle facilitates writing and discussion “circles” to assist prison convicts in maximum-security prisons in taking behavioral, emotional and spiritual responsibility for their lives. Inside Circle was created by convicts and citizens dedicated to the personal growth of men and women in prison. With the aid of outside volunteers, convicts conduct weekly circles and occasional “week-end intensives” in the prison chapel where prisoners can safely work through and explore the issues that have prevented them from living up to their full potential as human beings.

As with the self-help discussion group, creative writing is about to getting to the truth. About getting to the truth of the story of one’s own life. Each of us has a viewpoint that has never existed before and is uniquely ours. The writing down of these stories, whether in form of poetry, autobiography, or journaling, allows us to come to believe and understand that our story matters. In addition, the sharing of these stories allows us to move in the direction of taking off the masks we often put on a young age to protect ourselves from getting hurt. In doing so we find ourselves less alone and capable of finally removing the suffering from our pain, again simply by being seen.

Inside Circle has seen the introduction of writing classes in prison achieve amazing results. Because writing is by its very nature a solitary exercise it is very well suited for this environment. Oftentimes with just a minimal amount of instruction and encouragement these individuals have quickly blossomed into very effective writers. The ICF has seen prisoners who could barely read or write virtually explode with insight once given the opportunity to explore their own landscape through writing.

Partner: Inside Circle

Josh Neimark