2020, COVID19 & In Prison Programming
In March 2020 we recommended a temporary suspension of all in-person programs dependent on how the COVID19 situation unfolded and the CDCR’s readiness to handle the spread. In the months since then all California prisons have been under strict lockdown with disproportionate amounts of covid19 spreading throughout the prison system.
Three months into the statewide prison lockdown, George Floyd was murdered and massive uprisings swept the country. Between the inhumane prison conditions and widespread acknowledgement of systemic violence, the importance of bringing meditation, mindfulness, compassion and wisdom practices into the prisons became ever apparent.
With our traditional method of in-prison programming halted indefinitely, we saw an opportunity to use the lockdown to find clarity and alignment around who we are as an organization, what is truly important in this service work, and how we want to go about affecting change. We centered topics of inclusivity, diversity, and social justice in our conversations about our mission, vision, values, organizational culture, and strategic plans.
We ultimately decided to change our name to more fully capture the essence of the work we do inside and out of prison. We believe this change will support us in more effectively and sustainably be of service for those who are impacted by incarceration. While our name and look has changed, Buddhist Pathways and Buddhism remain integral to our organization and values.
Additionally, we are committed to help slow the transmission of the virus to prevent the prison’s healthcare institutions from being overwhelmed and safeguard the health of all incarcerated people as much as possible.
Therefore we have decided, while we are dedicated to maintaining programs in the prisons during difficult times, the health of the participants is paramount in this situation, and our in-person programs will remain suspended.
We understand and deeply value the positive impact our volunteers and programs bring to the folks inside. We are doing everything within our power to ensure our participants are safe and supported.
We are using this in-person program suspension to support advocacy efforts for incarcerated populations and to develop alternative means of communication and connection with our program participants and returning citizens.