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CNVC Freedom Project (Prisons)
Purpose of Freedom Project
To transform our community, which include prisoners at five Washington State prisons, through training in Nonviolent Communication and mindfulness.
History and Background
Mission: The Freedom Project strengthens our community by offering trainings in the concrete skills of Nonviolent Communication and mindfulness leading to reconciliation with ourselves, our loved ones, and with those around us.
Our work addresses the healing of relationships ruptured by violence and the forging of community founded on genuine safety through connection.
The Freedom Project began with two individuals, one inside prison and one outside, both inspired by the power of Nonviolent Communication to transform violent prisoners into active peacemakers. They held the conviction that “Returnees” (those returning to the community from prison) have the capacity to offer genuine safety to our ruptured communities by establishing true connection. The Freedom Project was founded in 2001 to provide trainings and support for those who have been incarcerated to recognize and grow beyond past mistakes and to find their way home as full contributing members of our community.
Current Status of Freedom Project
Governed by a Board of Directors, and led by an Executive Director, Freedom Project offers ongoing programs in five prisons in Washington State, three men’s prisons at the Monroe Correctional Complex in Monroe, WA, the Women’s Correctional Center in Tacoma, and our newest program just beginning to be established by one of the original founders of Freedom Project, the Stafford Creek Corrections Center project in Aberdeen, WA.
We introduce inmates to the basics of Nonviolent Communication through 2-day to fourteen week workshops and offer more extensive 3-day theme-based trainings in areas such as parenting, using NVC for anger management and reconciliation. At the Twin Rivers Unit, one of Washington State Sexual Offender Treatment Programs, participants meet weekly over a period of 14 weeks, applying the principles of NVC and mindfulness to create a living community based on mutual honesty and empathy.
Outside of prison, we maintain our relationship with those we trained inside prison after they are returned to their community. Our Safe Returns program offers Returnees a community-based support community that provides ongoing connection, friendship, honest feedback, and customized learning by engaging them in NVC workshops and practice sessions in a supportive peer-returnee setting. These trainings in Nonviolent Communication (NVC) and mindfulness aim at deep and enduring transformation to replace old patterns with consciously chosen life-affirming behaviors. With Safe Returns, those who learned NVC inside prison have the opportunity to teach it “outside” in their own communities.
Plans for our Future
Freedom started with two people, one inside prison and one outside. Since that day over ten years ago, we have grown to an organization of six board members, four staff members and over 50 dedicated volunteers. We are teaching NVC inside prisons, and outside in our communities creating more peaceful and safer communities. As we move in to the next decade of Freedom project we continue to reach out to our community for support, and continue to work with prisoners, Returnees, and community members dedicated to improving their abilities to communicate during conflict, and teaching others to do the same.
2010 brings to us the results of a comprehensive research project by Antioch University. Initial data indicates that Freedom Project reduces recidivism, creates happier and healthier people, and has saved the State of Washington as much as $5,000,000 a year. In early 2010, the project was in peer-review to review and confirm the data, and Freedom Project awaits the official release. The report will be available on our website as soon as it is academically verified. Email: nvc [at] freedom-project [dot] org for a .pdf version of the report when it becomes available (spring, 2010.)
Our current budget hovers around $175,000 a year. We appreciate any and all financial support: for every person who does not return to prison, there is an individual, a family, and a community not shattered by violence.
Learn more at www.freedomprojectSeattle.org.