January 2016 - Santa Cruz County Jail CODE 4 Graduation
Jail inmates graduate from intensive 12-week program
On January 28, 2016 nine Santa Cruz County Jail (SCCJ) inmates graduated from the second round of the jail's 12-week CODE 4 program. CODE 4 (Correctional Opportunities for Developing Empowerment) is designed to reduce recidivism by providing inmates with a structured and supportive space where they can explore behavior patterns that have caused harm in their lives. Freedom Within Prison Project (FWPP) congratulates these graduates and is proud of the personal work the incarcerated men have done. FWPP is one of the groups that teaches a course for SCCJ's 12-week CODE 4 Inmate Program.
FWPP Educational Staffers, Marc L'Ecluse, Malcolm Dydo, and Jay Saber, who attended the graduation ceremony, facilitate their twelve-week curriculum on a weekly basis inside the jail. The two-hour transformational group meetings encompass personal development processes that aid the men in having awareness around their own behaviors, motivations, and intentions. The processes and rounds within the group allow the men to develop trust, open-up in regard to where the behavior that led them to jail originated, and help them to make better choices for themselves and their families in the future.
October 2015 - SVSP Inmates Donate to FWPP
Inmates raise funds for non-profit group
On October 14, 2015 the Freedom Within Prison Project (FWPP) was honored to receive a check for $4,325.00 as a donation from the incarcerated men inside Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP).
The donated funds were raised during a food drive where inmates were able to purchase food items not usually available to them inside the prison. FWPP was selected as the donation recipient by the inmates.
The check was co-presented by SVSP warden, inmates and prison staff members during FWPP's weekly group meeting in B-yard, as a "thank you" to the five FWPP facilitators who regularly meet with the inmates inside the Salinas Valley State Prison: Malcom Dydo, Marc L'Ecluse, Jim Urgo, Luke Lehman, and Jay Saber.
We are sincerely grateful to have been selected by the inmates we sit with for this award.
January 2015 - ACLU Meeting & Guest Speaker
Northern California ACLU Organizer Stacy Suh speaks about combating mass incarceration
On Sunday, January 18, 2015 Freedom Within Project Director, Jay Saber, attended the monthly meeting of the Santa Cruz County Chapter of the ACLU at Michael's On Main in Soquel, CA to hear Northern California Organizer Stacy Suh speak about combating mass incarceration.
Ms. Suh spoke about about recent changes in legislation within the prison system that have caused dramatic decreases in the number of men that are incarcerated within the state of California. For example, AB 109 has decreased the sentences of men with non-violent, non-sexual, and non-weapons charges. These inmates are now to be allowed to have their sentences either commuted or decreased. Likewise, Proposition 47 allows non-violent drug offenders to have their sentences reduced and many inmates are being allowed to leave jails and prisons to attend rehabilitation on the outside.
The war on drugs has helped make the U.S. the world's largest incarcerator.
With only 5% of the world's population, the U.S. has 25% of the world's prison population.
September 2014 - SVSP Concert for Inmates
Concert produced in D-yard at Salinas Valley State Prison
The day following our Second Annual Freedom Within Prison Project Benefit Concert Fundraiser in Santa Cruz, FWPP members produced a musical concert inside Salinas Valley State Prison for the benefit of inmates in D yard. Two identical sets of music were performed between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm in front of 2,000 inmates, many of whom made it a point to express their gratitude. It was an incredible day full of heartfelt emotion, outstanding music, and beautiful weather.
The band was made up of a volunteer group of top-notch Bay Area musicians featuring: Tammi Brown, Garrick Davis, Doug "Dirt" Greenfield, Larry Graff, Steve Sofranko, and Paul Garcia. A few of the songs featured were Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison Blues, Bob Dylan's All Along the Watchtower and Michael Franti's Everybody Deserves Music. Luke Lehmen, one of FWPP's own Educational Staff, opened the show with a song especially written for the inmates titled "Salinas Valley Prison Blues."
We were supported in this effort by our Program Director, Carolyn Hernandez, and the guard staff of the Salinas Valley State Prison. This show would not have been possible without their support.
September 2014 - FWP Benefit Concert
Freedom Within Project hosts Second Annual Benefit Concert to raise money and awareness
A huge thank you to everyone who joined Freedom Within Prison Project for our Second Annual Benefit Concert & Fundraiser! Guests enjoyed a very special evening as talented musicians performed songs about prison and freedom. This event included a raffle and silent auction with great contributions from local businesses. All proceeds went directly to the Freedom Within Project and helped fund a concert, featuring the same musicians, that was held the next day for inmates inside prison walls at Salinas Valley Sate Prison.
August 2014 - Rountree RISE Program
Freedom Within Prison Project added to RISE Program at Rountree Minimum Security Facility
Led by RISE program Director Vanessa Kuhlman, Freedom Within Prison Project Educational Staff are now facilitating regular group transformational workshops with men inside Rountree Minimum Security Facility in Watsonville, CA.
Inmates in the group are serving the last six months to one year of their incarceration and work through processes that will help them to fit back into society as a whole. The group setting allows inmates to open-up to personal belief systems that have limited them in their lives as well as to an awareness of the impact that their actions have had on, not only themselves, but the lives of those around them.
Rare Video Footage
Inside Salinas Valley State Prison:
Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP) is home to America's most powerful prison gangs and is projected to have more than 700 assaults this year. The following video footage gives viewers a rare glimpse into prison culture as well as a look at the lives of some of the inmates who participate weekly with the Freedom Within Prison Project, as well as other programs.