History of The Freedom Within Prison Project
In 2013, The Freedom Within Prison Project (FWPP) became a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to the personal growth of incarcerated men.
With the aid of outside volunteers and professionals—who have a deep commitment and experience in the unique arena of men's group work—convicts conduct weekly circles and occasional weekend intensives where they can safely explore, and work through, issues that have prevented them from living up to their full potential as human beings.
2007 - 2009
Two of the founding Freedom Within Prison Project members, Jay Saber and Jim Urgo, attended incarcerated men's personal growth workshops inside Folsom State Prison in the Sacramento area.
Marc L'Ecluse, Jim Urgo, and Jay Saber began working with incarcerated men inside Soledad Correctional Facility in Soledad, CA. As volunteers, they created a weekly, ongoing men's group for inmates that were interested in making changes in their lives through a series of personal growth processes.
Luke Lehman, Marc L'Ecluse, Jay Saber, and Jim Urgo began sitting with incarcerated men inside Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP) in Soledad, CA. The ongoing group uses curriculum based on transformational processes and serves between 25-40 incarcerated men on a weekly basis. These processes allow the inmates to create a new direction in their lives—one of self discovery, personal growth, and a better understanding of the impact of their actions upon themselves and society as a whole.
The five founding FWPP directors, Malcolm Dydo, Luke Lehman, Marc L'Ecluse, Jay Saber, and Jim Urgo formed The Inside Men's Foundation, later changing the name to Freedom Within Prison Project.
Freedom Within Prison Project held their first two-day men's training inside Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP). Participating inmates graduated from the intensive training with not only a deeper understanding of themselves, but with new insights into helpful behaviors they could then incorporate into their daily lives on the inside.
Freedom Within Prison Project also expanded during this year into a second yard in SVSP General Population and began holding two weekly groups.
Freedom Within Prison Project begins volunteering inside Santa Cruz County Jail by sitting in circle with men on a weekly basis. Here the FWPP volunteers facilitate change that benefits the inmates by teaching them to better deal with the emotional pressures of short term incarceration, ongoing court cases, transfers to other jails and/or prisons, and by enabling them to better understand how to move forward as some of them are released back into society.
During this year, Freedom Within Prison Project also began regular group workshops at Rountree Minimum Facility in Watsonville, CA to assist inmates, who will be soon transitioning back into the outside world, to make better choices for themselves in the future.
Freedom Within Prison Project continues their work with incarcerated men inside Salinas Valley State Prison, Santa Cruz County Jail, and Rountree Minimum Facility with a mission to change the culture inside prisons and jails, from one of violence and gang oppression, to a place where inmates learn to take responsibility for their thoughts, feelings, and actions through self-awareness and emotional literacy.
The five core FWPP volunteers that facilitate this work have been sitting in weekly men's groups for a cumulative total of 50-plus years—and all of the volunteers have been through an intensive MKP men's weekend training: The New Warrior Training Adventure. A number of the FWPP volunteers have also attended weekend men's trainings inside Folsom Prison in Sacramento, California.
The MKP Warrior Training's weekly men's groups and weekend trainings, and the volunteer's personal connection to Salinas Valley State Prison all serve as the catalyst for The Freedom Within Prison Project.