How to Start Programs in Prison

Prosperity Paths Newsletter Number 14 January 1996
By S.S. Mukta Kaur Khalsa--Espanola (formally of Tucson, Arizona)

In 1973, I began as a volunteer at the Safford Federal Prison in Arizona, a minimum-security facility with about 850 inmates. Here, inmates were introduced to the teachings of 3HO and Sikh Dharma through weekly classes.

Within a year, I began teaching at the local Pima County Jail in Tucson, as part of the 3HO Super Health drug rehabilitation outreach program--inmates were educated about drug abuse and its problems, plus gained some insight into how they could be helped. Upon release from prison, inmates could apply to enter the Super Health Program.

The prison system administration was favorably impressed by the positive effects of the classes on inmates. I was placed on a prison disciplinary committee, which was made up of administration personal. Prison rule violations were reviewed by this committee and decisions made on what disciplinary actions to take.

We had been offering an orientation class as an option for new inmates. This evolved into becoming a required class for all new inmates. It covered yoga, meditation, diet, values and everything that we represent and taught in one prison. I was asked to create a vegetarian menu option for inmates.

It wasn’t long before I was asked to be a part of the Staff Development Team. Then, through our work with the drug rehabilitation, I became a member of the Arizona Probation and Parole Department--whose members were professionals affiliated with corrections. The latter created great inroads into the prison system and helped expand our programs. I was invited to numerous conferences to present seminars and workshops on how the technology of 3HO and Sikh Dharma could benefit the inmates and staff.

Ultimately, Sikh Dharma was funded by the Arizona Department of Corrections, first through their Religious Department and later the counseling, psychological section--to work with the inmates in any of the penal institutions in Arizona. This included maximum, medium and minimum security prisons, The budget had a provision for tapes, books, Yogi Bhajan teachings on men, diet information, and videos: these were very welcome by inmates. Still today, Sikh Dharma has a contract for a full time position in the Arizona state prison system.

Thousands of inmates have been effected by our programs. Time is a commodity that is in abundance and many seriously practiced the teachings. Lives were deeply and profoundly impacted, especially for those who found their way into the 3HO Super Health program and lived with us. Many wrote the Siri Singh Sahib (Yogi Bhajan) and asked for spiritual names. In life it is always destiny or fate. I believe that our programs have helped many walk toward their destiny.

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