The Lioness Tale Prison Project invites incarcerated women to explore freedom by providing literacy in tools for transformation. The project suggests that freedom is both their birth-right and their calling. It proposes that in the free act they recreate themselves and their world.
This transformational project has been successfully piloted at the Central California Women’s Facility, one of the largest women’s prisons in the world, with the intention of growing it both nationally and internationally.
We work with women who are doing long-term to life prison sentences. We have trained a core team of women to take stewardship of the program and they have begun to move it throughout the institution. The circles they are creating are circles of trust and support that are already beginning to change the culture of their housing units. Others of their prison community are attracted to the positive changes they perceive in LiT-uPP graduates, and the waiting list for the program is growing. We continue to work with the core group to train other inmate facilitators to carry the program forward.
Many of these women, who have already served years in
prison, know the place within themselves that cannot be constrained by prison walls or razor wire, or the power structure embodied by prison guards, whether kind or cruel. They know that place within themselves that is free—their minds, hearts, souls. Even though their bodies are caged, they nurture that place within that cannot be externally controlled: their freedom. LiT-uPP is about bringing the sun of awareness to bear on what may be only a seed, a trampled shoot, or an over-shaded sapling. It’s about pruning, nurturing and watering the freedom that is there in the root soil of their own nature so that it can ripen into the fullness of an authentic life.
Participants say that this story of a captured lioness is their story and that it has come to symbolize for them the transformative powers that transcend their own life circumstances.
As the acronym for the Lioness Tale Prison Project implies, LiT-uPP is about bringing light into the darkness, both to the darkness of the human heart and to the institutional darkness of the prison system. This light of compassionate awareness radiates out to the benefit of us all.
This project touches many lives:
The book The Lioness Tale is the about taking action
toward accomplishing our freedom.
What better place to plumb the depths of human freedom
than a maximum security prison?
- the Lioness connecting with her own inner freedom
- the Panther accompanying her lioness sisters in this liberating process
- the sponsor empowering the journey through support and awareness
- the community of prisoners building more compassion amongst its members
- the greater society becoming more conscious of the shared humanity of the people we imprison
- the entire web of life which is strengthened through the healing reverberation of its of parts