Daily VideoJuly 31, 2013
Prisoners Become Peacemakers at San Quentin
California’s San Quentin State Prison has an infamous reputation for being overcrowded, dangerous, and home to some criminals considered to be the “worst of the worst”. In an effort to turn violence into peace, psychologist Jacques Verduin created Guiding Rage Into Power (GRIP), a year long program designed for prisoners to take ownership of and understand their past behavior and learn to become peacemakers in the future.
The program uses many techniques commonly used in treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Because many inmates experience trauma long before becoming violent offenders, GRIP’s group therapy sessions focus on the origins of feelings behind violent acts inmates either participated in or witnessed.
Inmates are also taught to meditate through a practice called sitting in the fire. Participants learn to face painful emotions from their past. “Sitting in the fire, in essence,” said Verduin, “is a movement of responsibility, where you say, the causes and the origins of this feeling lie within me, so you can stop blaming.”
Making amends to families of their victims is also part of the journey in GRIP. Inmate Robin Guillen feels that this is the way to inner freedom.
“I have character defects, flaws, and I’m imperfect,” he says. “But I have a walk and I have a commitment to honor and to honor those people that I’ve hurt. And I have something to give. And I could either give it in here, or I can give it out there.”
After 52 weeks of very difficult self-exploration, the inmates are ready to give back. In a closing ritual, supporters welcomed back the graduates into the community as peacemakers.
“I think it’s an enormous gift to a community to bring back groups of men that have been imprisoned and the gift is to say, these are safe men. Not only will they not create conflict and violence in your community; the can help resolve it and de-escalate it,” – Jacques Verduin
Warm up questions
1. How has violence in your community affected you?
2. Do you believe that violent criminals can change?
3. What do you know about meditation?
1. Explain how the GRIP rehabilitation process works? What is its goal?
2. Is this program valuable? Would you support it becoming a national rehabilitation program for prisoners? Why or why not, and provide specific examples.
3. What methods could you use to process difficult experiences? Who could you turn to for support?
Tooltip of related stories
Tooltip of more video block
Submit Your Student Voice
Use this PBS NewsHour video and discussion questions to teach your students about the events in Charlottesville. Extension activities include the history of Confederate monuments and the debate as to whether or not the statues should remain standing. Continue readingArts & CultureEconomicsHealthScienceSocial StudiesU.S.UncategorizedWorld
Today’s Daily News Story provides video, key terms and discussion questions to help teachers talk with their students about the events in Charlottesville, Virginia. Continue readingArts & CultureEconomicsHealthScienceSocial StudiesU.S.UncategorizedWorld
Montpelier, the home of James Madison, the fourth president of the United States, recently opened a new permanent exhibit at the Virginia estate to inform visitors about Madison’s slaves and the lives they led. Continue readingArts & CultureEconomicsHealthScienceSocial StudiesU.S.UncategorizedWorld
As high-density, industrial-scale livestock feeding operations become the norm, farmers have had to take extra steps to keep animals healthy. Illnesses and diseases grow and spread quickly when large numbers of similar animals are kept in close proximity. Continue readingArts & CultureEconomicsHealthScienceSocial StudiesU.S.UncategorizedWorld
Rose-ringed parakeets have multiplied by the thousands on the Hawaiian island of Kauai since the 1960s, when a few parakeets kept as pets escaped. The birds have since caused problems by damaging native plants and farm crops. Continue readingArts & CultureEconomicsHealthScienceSocial StudiesU.S.UncategorizedWorld