Projects :: Prison Project
Incarcerated women all over the world are our forgotten sisters, mothers and daughters. Isolated and alone, incarcerated women have little contact from friends, family and lack community support. Our sisters struggle to survive at a time of dwindling resources for rehabilitation. Sexual abuse, inadequate or nonexistent medical care and separation from children are a few of the many problems faced by women in prison. With 75% of them serving time for petty drug possession offenses or other nonviolent crimes, they need our attention and support.
In 1988, seventeen year old Angela, found herself pregnant and without parental guidance. While obeying the orders of her uncle, she was arrested for selling cocaine to an undercover officer. Although she did not have any prior criminal history, she was sentenced under the mandatory minimum sentencing laws, and is now serving 15 years to life. There are hundreds of stories like these where the enforcement of mandatory laws prevails. Allah says in the Quran that the human being is created in the best of molds or forms and then can be reduced to the lowest of low. (Sura 95) The SWO Prison Program volunteers are caring, devoted women seeking to help incarcerated women realize and return to their Divine potential within. We believe that everyone, including our incarcerated sisters, has a right to discover the peace, tranquility, inner strength that lies within.
Goals and Objectives
We are a group of volunteers, members of SWO, devoted to working with one of the most neglected populations of the world, women in prison. We have credentials in social work, human services, psychology, sociology and teaching as well extensive life experience. We have also been students of the spiritual path of Sufism for many years.
Our goals: To foster personal growth, healing and transformation of female prison inmates through correspondence, classes and workshops held in local prisons and jails. To provide companionship to inmates through letter writing and sharing Sufi perspectives and principles. To provide Sufi publications and other sources of educational materials through the Spiritual Literacy and Library Project. Our latest efforts have been directed towards teaching meditation to women in prison. Meditation is a simple, cost effective way to help women began to improve their lives from the inside out. The goal of Sufi meditation is to return an individual to his/her own heart, the origin of life.
Meditation classes at the Marin County Jail
On March 8th, International Women's Day, we began a series of meditation classes for women incarcerated in Marin County Jail. At this class, we shared the principles and techniques of Sufi meditation. We introduced many of the women to meditation for the first time. They were very eager to learn and practice the art of meditation. We taught them the techniques of relaxation, centering and controlled breathing. The women were encouraged to use these practices to foster spiritual, social and emotional health. The intention is to seek guidance from within to solve problems, answer longing questions and to find peace and tranquility in a chaotic environment.
Sponsor an inmate in the IAS / SWO “Adopt-A-Prisoner Program.” For a $16 donation, you can provide a 1-year subscription to the journal Sufism: an Inquiry. Reading the wisdom of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and Sufi masters as well as meditating on the beautiful words of Sufi poetry is an inspiring way to begin the transformative process that is necessary for healing wounded souls.
Our staff continuously participate in solution-based projects and conference dealing with women in prison. However, our primary method of raising community awareness is through publications. The SWO Prison Program has a regular column in the IAS Prison Project's Al Hadi Newsletter and in the Sufi Women Newsletter. Al Hadi is distributed to prisoners and interested subscribers all over the country. The Sufi Women Newsletter is distributed to an international audience of activists and humanitarians.
Quotes from Women Inmates
"I just had a mass removed from my breast here at the jail, and if I had not been in here, I would not have been able to get this treatment."
"When I came in here tonight, I had a really bad headache and after sitting through this Stress Reduction Workshop and experiencing the meditation and relaxation techniques, now it's gone."
"I've been incarcerated since 1998 and this is the first time any Muslimahs have come in to lead an Islamic ceremony", "Imams just don't visit the women in here."
Interested in Getting Involved?
This is an opportunity for service. If you are willing to devote a small amount of time, energy and ideas, SWO would greatly appreciate your contribution. Donations are always welcome to cover the cost of postage and stationary. The Adopt-a-Prisoner Program can also be used to provide sisters with inspirational and educational reading material. All proceeds to the IAS Prison Project benefit the SWO Prison Program as well.
If you would like to donate your time or money, please contact us at:
SWO Prison Project
Sufi Women Organization
14 Commercial Blvd., Suite 101
Novato, California 94949 USA
TEL: +1 415 382 SUFI (7834)
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