Behind Bars, Open Hearts
In October of 2013, Center for Council and Stories Matter Media, with the support of Cal Humanities "Community Stories Project," collaborated on a film project documenting the extraordinary Inmate Council Progam unfolding in Salinas Valley State Prison.
Reporter Kenneth Miller followed the film crew into Salinas Valley State Prison and wrote the following article on the powerful weekend.
Miller reports, "An aura of earnest spirituality suffuses the practice, but there’s no religious content. Nor is there a specific therapeutic agenda. “Council doesn’t start with the assumption that something’s wrong with you,” says retired warden David Winett, a longtime supporter. In corrections, he observes, the custom is to tell inmates, “What you need is a good talking-to.” Council’s core belief, Winett says, is that what everyone needs is “a good listening-to.” By hearing others deeply, the theory goes, people learn compassion; by being heard, they learn to better understand themselves.