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Information for those on a Contemplative Path Inside Jails and Prisons

Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP)

1050 Selby Avenue St. Paul, Minn. 55104
Phone: 888-278-7820

AVP provides a 22-hour intensive program of exercises and discussions designed to develop self-esteem and self-confidence; teaches principles of cooperation, skills in listening, speaking, and observing; and explores ways of finding nonviolent solutions that are possible in almost every conflict when approached with a caring attitude. Developed from the real-life experiences of prisoners and others, and building on a spiritual base, AVP encourages every person’s innate power to positively transform themselves and the world.

Amber-Allen Publishing

P.O. Box 6657Black and white drawing of a woman meditating 68 Mitchell Blvd., Suite 215
San Rafael, Calif. 94903-0657
Phone: 415-499-4657

The publishing house focuses exclusively on personal growth, inspirational, spiritual, and health-related books, and will, when able, upon request and without charge, send books that have been returned from stores and might be blemished.

Contemplative Outreach

10 Park Place, 2nd Floor, Suite B
Butler, N.J. 07405
Phone: 973-838–3384

Contemplative Outreach offers a booklet, “Locked Up and Free,” in English or Spanish, teaching the technique of Centering Prayer.

The Gangaji Foundation

Prison Program
P.O. Box 716
Ashland, OR 97520
Phone: 541-482-3100

The Gangaji Foundation Prison Program sponsors in-prison visits, a correspondence program, and provides books as well as audios and videos free of charge to prisoners.

Naljor Prison Dharma Service


Offers The Heart of Dharma Collection, teachings designed for daily study, contemplative meditation, and inspiration. Also offers a 29-page printable directory of interfaith resources (Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Native American, etc.), as well as resources for books, pen-pals, legal and re-entry assistance, creative writing, career development, continuing education, and personal health.

The National Emotional Literacy Project for Prisoners

c/o Lionheart Foundation
P.O. Box 170115
Boston, Mass. 02117

The National Emotional Literacy Project for Prisoners publishes the book House of Healing and A Prisoner’s Guide to Inner Power and Freedom. This book is available for free to prison libraries. Books are also donated to prison programs when funds are not available to purchase them for this purpose. A facilitator’s guide is also available for prison programs.

Parallax Press

Parallax Press publishes books on engaged Buddhism and the practice of mindfulness.As a division of the Unified Buddhist Church, we are committed to making these teachings accessible for everyone, to help alleviate suffering and create a more peaceful world. We publish James Baraz’s Awakening Joy: 10 Steps to Happiness (which has been used in prison groups around the country), as well as Thich Nhat Hanh’s Be Free Where You Are. For one of these, or other titles, please write:

Parallax Press
Attn: Prison Book Donation Project
P.O. Box 7355
Berkeley, Calif. 94707

Prison Ashram Project: Human Kindness Foundation

P.O. Box 61619
Durham, N.C. 27715
Phone: 919-383-5160

The Prison Ashram Project sends interfaith spiritual books and CDs, free of charge, to inmates who request them. Our best-known book is We’re All Doing Time, by Bo Lozoff, which has been called “the convicts’ Bible” in institutions around the world.

Prison Contemplative Fellowship


Prison Contemplative Fellowship (PCF) is an association of volunteers, prison chaplains, prisoners, and former prisoners, who practice a form of silent meditation called Centering Prayer. This prayer practice was well-known in the early church, then lost for centuries, and now is emerging as a powerful tool for personal transformation.

PCF provides guidance and materials to individuals and groups who wish to do this prayer practice in prisons and jails, regardless of any denomination preference or religious orientation. When asked, PCF sends books and pamphlets, in English and Spanish, free of charge to volunteers and prison chaplains to support their efforts to help prisoners maintain a contemplative prayer practice.

The Prison Mindfulness Institute

PO Box 206
South Deerfield, MA 01373

The Prison Mindfulness Institute’s mission is to provide prisoners, prison staff and prison volunteers, with the most effective, evidence-based tools for rehabilitation, self-transformation, and personal & professional development. In particular, we provide and promote the use of proven effective mindfulness-based interventions (MBI’s). Our dual focus is on transforming individual lives as well as transforming the corrections system as a whole in order to mitigate its extremely destructive impact on families, communities and the overall social capital of our society.

The Path of Freedom program is a mindfulness-based, emotional intelligence (MBEI) approach to rehabilitation and personal transformation for incarcerated adults and youth. We provide online training for facilitators.

Our Books Behind Bars program provides books on meditation, mindfulness, and contemplative spirituality to prisoners.

Prison Outreach Project

Upaya Zen Center
1404 Cerro Gordo Road
Santa Fe, NM 87501

The Upaya Prison Project supports inmates in developing a Buddhist-style mindfulness practice, through literature and correspondence.

San Francisco Zen Center
Prison Outreach Program
300 Page St. San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone: 415-354-0316

The San Francisco Zen Center teaches meditation and yoga classes. Pen-pals are available for inmates who are interested in regular correspondence about Buddhist practice. Free Buddhist literature also included.

Siddha Yoga Prison Project

P.O. Box 99140
Emeryville, Calif. 94662
Phone: 510-898-2700, Ext. 1769

Provides to inmates the In Search of the Self Correspondence Course in the teachings and practices of Siddha Yoga meditation.  Siddha Yoga teaches that the real purpose of life is to experience the joy, freedom and greatness which lies within each of us.  Free monthly lessons in English or Spanish guide the student in the profound spiritual wisdom of meditation. The Prison Project also responds to inquiries about the Siddha Yoga path; donates books, tapes and videos to incarcerated seekers and prison libraries; and trains volunteers to bring meditation programs into prisons.

Tricycle Foundation Prison Project

1115 Broadway, Suite 1113
New York, NY 10010

The Tricycle Foundation, publisher of the quarterly magazine Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, distributes back issues of the magazine to prisoners. Issues include practice instructions and advice from meditation teachers to lead one towards increased mindfulness, tranquility, insight, and compassion. also provides free advertising and an online hub for organizations who run prison outreach programs.