Last night we had graduation; six men graduated from our year-long program bringing our total number of graduates to 54. Each of our participants was encouraged to tell us how taking Nonviolent Communication (NVC) training in prison had affected their lives. Each man spoke of being less reactive and having better relationships with their families, prison officials, and their fellow inmates. When it was Jabari’s turn he said,

“I have learned a lot of things in prison; mostly I have learned how to be a better criminal. If I wanted to when I get out of here I could set up an effective crime organization, but after taking NVC I don’t want to, I want peace for me and my family and now I know how to get there. Things changed for me when you talked about shame in NVC I (the first quarter of our program), and I began to realize how much shame has been running my life. Now I don’t do what I used to do when I feel shame, I can make different choices, and it has made all the difference.”

My eyes filled with tears of joy and gratitude because I am convinced that when he is released, this man will have the will, skill, and insight necessary to make his community a safer and more humane place to live. And like 98% of all those in prison, he will be released back into his community. Jabari has now joined our Peer-Training Program and is learning to teach NVC while inside prison. He is among 17 men learning to be peace-makers while in prison.

~Fred Sly