If anyone had ever told me that when I retired I’d be having the time of my life volunteering at a Florida state prison, you can imagine what I might have thought. ECI [Everglades Correctional Institution] currently holds around 1,700 male inmates, many of whom will spend the rest of their lives there. Most of these men have “seen it all,” outside as well as inside of prison. They have a clear understanding that peace cannot come from either place, and are beginning to realize that it has been within them all along.
One participant said, “Prem is touching my heart. It’s an honor to hear him speak and for him to recognize us like he does, as human beings. “Prem is giving us tools for life,” said another. “No matter how hard it gets, I can know who I am on the inside. It helps me even if no one else knows. Because I know.” And aren’t we volunteers the lucky ones to witness such transformation behind prison walls!
Jodi Barker is one of three Peace Education Program (PEP) volunteers facilitating the program in Spanish at Everglades Correctional Institution (ECI) near Miami, Florida. She's shown here (in the middle) with fellow PEP facilitators Erika Avendano and Christina Killian.