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Archive for the ‘Prison Reform’ Category

On a related note to the last post, I have been wondering what became of the “Hot Seat” group therapy developed by Bill Sands and the inmate Ezra Kingsley. From what I read it sounds pretty effective – its sort of honesty therapy. In The Seventh Step, Sands describes it as the invention of lifer inmate Ezra Kingsley: each member of the group takes a turn in the ‘hot seat’, and talks about their efforts. The other members ‘rip the sheet off’ the speaker, pointing out ways in which he isn’t being honest with himself. This strikes me as pretty strong stuff, and I could see how it would be effective therapy.

The only links I’ve found online that reference the program are this one in Canada:
and a publication from around 1966:

It seems to me like effective help for convicts is just an extremely important area – not only for the convicts themselves, but for communities and even state budgets.

I’ve seen a flyer at Antigone Books in Tucson about a Books behind Bars project or something like that that sends books into prisons. I think its a great idea but another incident made me start thinking, which books?

One day I took a walk in the Santa Cruz wash, happened to be after a city sweep of the homeless camps. They had pretty much bulldozed them, so leftover things and trash were scattered around. I found a book, that one of the homeless folks had owned. It was some kind of psychic text that sort of blamed problems on society in a kind of ranting way. I can’t remember the name of it now but it struck me that this book probably wasn’t going to be the one to help someone get their life back together.

On the other hand, some books are truly powerful and inspirational. I posted somewhere else about the prisoner with a quote from Anne Frank’s diary tattooed on his back. And that is not even one I would have chosen. Maybe Victor Frankl? My Shadow Ran Fast by Bill Sands?

I am curious, what books people have found to be really helpful in changing their lives. Especially that would be relevent to prisoners today.