Buena Vista, Colorado Prison Project
In the spring of 2015 Jenny Davis organized a weekly meditation and study group at the Buena Vista Correctional Complex, after receiving a request for Buddhist services from several inmates. Bodhimarga sangha members offered financial support and book donations to help get everything started. Jenny enlisted the help of Chris Bove to conduct the weekly sessions and they completed the mandatory training that allowed them to conduct the program at the prison.
Jenny and Chris continue to provide weekly programming for several inmates, alternating between the minimum and medium facilities at the complex. There is a greater turnover of participants in the group at the minimum facility because those folks are getting ready to be released.
According to Jenny, the regular attendees are very dedicated, meditate everyday, read texts on their own and ask many good questions during the study sessions. “For some, we are their only contact with outsiders other than the guards and they are extremely appreciative. We’ve had participants tell us that if it wasn’t for the program, they would be in solitary confinement. Others have credited the program with helping them to obtain release. Many state that it helps them to control their anger or deal with the death of loved ones.”
Venerable Tenzin took time to visit both facilities in the fall of 2016, after a local retreat and conducted a Refuge Ceremony for those who had been studying for a while. There was an incredible energy surrounding the visit and the inmates still comment over a year later about how much it meant to them. The 30 or so folks at each facility were very engaged and asked some great questions. The guard assigned to accompany Ven. Tenzin, Jenny & Chris said the talks were the highlight of her year and commented that, “Everyone should hear this.”
Bodhimarga will undertake donation of relevant books to the Prison System. We are grateful to all of our Bodhimarga members for helping to make this program a reality.