Religion, Spiritual Development

Buddhist Pathways Prison Project

Bringing Buddhist services into California prisons

aka BP3

Sacramento, CA

Mission

To bring the Buddhist teachings of ethical behavior, meditation practice and the cultivation of wisdom into California prisons and jails. This practice is known as mindfulness. To offer support and emergency assistance to newly released inmates to help them with clothing, medical, and shelter so they can have a measure of ease and continue their practice.

Ruling Year

2011

Founder

Diane Wilde

Main Address

840 48th Street

Sacramento, CA 95819 USA

Keywords

Buddhist Services for Inmates, Mindfulness Meditation for Inmates

EIN

27-3086459

 Number

1181364666

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Buddhist (X50)

Interfaith Issues (X90)

IRS Filing Requirement

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Programs + Results

What we aim to solve New!

Buddhist Pathways Prison Project aims to provide incarcerated people across California with the tools for inner transformation. With the knowledge that these men and women will one day rejoin our communities outside of prison, we aim to equip them with practical mindfulness techniques that they can use to sustain a positive, productive and harm-free life, supported by a framework of ethical behaviors and attitudes, and rooted in an empathetic and compassionate view of themselves and others. Our current programs are successful, but our supply cannot meet the demand. So over the next five years, we hope to expand our services to every federal prison in California, making mindfulness meditation accessible to every incarcerated person in the state. To do so, we plan to increase our volunteer base and training modules, as well as our annual budget through fundraising.

Our programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Mindfulness meditation and Buddhist services

Newly Released Inmate (Returning Citizen) Support

Where we workNew!

Charting Impact

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have and haven't they accomplished so far?

We plan to deepen our impact by increasing our volunteer base, and bringing our services to prisons currently lacking in rehabilitation programs. We intend to strengthen our programming by intensifying our volunteer recruitment efforts by seeking and forming partnerships with other Buddhist groups throughout California. We also intend to increase our volunteer trainings, particularly in trauma and race-sensitive mindfulness practices. In addition, we are creating a Program Evaluation with which we will be able to collect valuable data about the impact of services.

We plan to deepen our impact by increasing our volunteer base, and bringing our services to prisons currently lacking in rehabilitation programs. We intend to strengthen our programming by intensifying our volunteer recruitment efforts by seeking and forming partnerships with other Buddhist groups throughout California. We also intend to increase our volunteer trainings, particularly in trauma and race-sensitive mindfulness practices. In addition, we are creating a Program Evaluation with which we will be able to collect valuable data about the impact of services.

Our organization relies heavily on our devoted base of volunteers. With their collective expertise and training, we are able to meet our programmatic goals at every prison where we provide services. Our “onboarding” process ensures that our volunteers are proficiently qualified to work under stressful conditions within prisons and jails, with a sensitivity to the specific traumas impacting nearly 100% of the population we serve. Our working Board of Directors serve to guide our organization’s trajectory, continually generating plans to improve the work we do, both internally and in the prisons. We are currently developing partnerships with other prison program providers which will allow us to leverage our collective power into greater agency within the California prison system. Also, because our work is situated within the chaos of prison, we have recently created an Advisory Council and a Conflict Resolution Committee, both of which will allow our organization to be more responsive and supportive to our volunteers when conflictive incidents occur.

Because California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has restricted detailed studies of rehabilitative efforts being brought into the prison system (i.e. clinical analysis, questionnaires, etc.) we have been relying on our own limited ability to gather general information after a daylong silent retreat, or quantifying the obvious positive change in attitude through interviews and post-release follow-up. For example, as men from our Buddhist communities are transferred to other prisons, if Buddhist services are not offered, they write to our offices asking when Buddhist teachers will be available. We are contacted by Community Partner Managers, requesting that we provide Buddhist services in their institutions. Our growth from one prison twelve years ago, to twenty prisons (with a request for services from every state institution) is a testament to the positive changes which are taking place. Not only do our Buddhist communities continue to grow via requests by CDCR, our inmate sangha members encourage others to attend. As Warden Spearman of High Desert State Prison said a few years ago, “I always know when the Buddhists are in the yard. Things are peaceful.”

Buddhist practice is experiential, not dogmatic. It is available to everyone. Through meditation, mindfulness in daily life, and frank discussions in a safe environment, attitudes of selfishness, hatred and ignorance are seen for what they are; suffering for the individual and those with whom he/she is in contact. Thousands of men and women have taken part in Buddhist services due to the dedication of our cadred of volunteers. Inmates have had the experience of “seeing things clearly” and have disavowed gang influence, and racial biases. At the end of one of our services, a Hispanic inmate (who is now released and working with juvenile offenders) stated, “I wish I could just be with this group. All colors and religions. This is sanity.” Our long term goal is to have these teachings available to all inmates in the California prison system, regardless of spiritual tradition or lack of any spiritual tradition. As one inmate wrote to us recently, “Now that the door has been opened, I can’t go back.”

External Reviews

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Operations

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Board Leadership Practices

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

BOARD ORIENTATION & EDUCATION

Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?

Not Applicable

CEO OVERSIGHT

Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?

Not Applicable

ETHICS & TRANSPARENCY

Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?

Not Applicable

BOARD COMPOSITION

Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?

Not Applicable

BOARD PERFORMANCE

Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?

Not Applicable

Organizational Demographics

In order to support nonprofits and gain valuable insight for the sector, GuideStar worked with D5—a five-year initiative to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in philanthropy—in creating a questionnaire. This section is a voluntary questionnaire that empowers organizations to share information on the demographics of who works in and leads organizations. To protect the identity of individuals, we do not display sexual orientation or disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff. Any values displayed in this section are percentages of the total number of individuals in each category (e.g. 20% of all Board members for X organization are female).

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Gender

Race & Ethnicity

Sexual Orientation

This organization reports that it does not collect this information for Board Members, Senior Staff, Full-Time Staff and Part-Time Staff.

Disability

This organization reports that it does not collect this information for Board Members, Senior Staff, Full-Time Staff and Part-Time Staff.

Diversity Strategies

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We track retention of staff, board, and volunteers across demographic categories
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We track income levels of staff, senior staff, and board across demographic categories
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We track the age of staff, senior staff, and board
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We track the diversity of vendors (e.g., consultants, professional service firms)
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We have a diversity committee in place
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We have a diversity manager in place
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We have a diversity plan
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We use other methods to support diversity
Diversity notes from the nonprofit
We are primarily a volunteer organization with volunteers of all ethnic backgrounds. We do not collect data on the sexual orientation of our volunteers, but are aware that we have volunteers that identify as LBGQT. We are continuously seeking new board members of diverse ethnic backgrounds, but do not seek information regarding gender or sexual identification.