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Continued: Finding the freedom within

  • Article by: JEFF STRICKLER , Star Tribune
  • Last update: November 19, 2007 - 2:00 PM

She has a response ready even before a visitor can ask the followup question.

"I'm not saying that we go soft on crime," she insisted. "I'm not telling these guys that they didn't do something wrong. I'm saying that if they ask for help, we need to quit focusing on the guilt and shame and offer them hope."

Even though she was optimistic about the program, she's been surprised by the reaction just five months into it.

"I taught an introductory class in which 30 men sat in a circle for 2½ hours without moving," she said. "Of course, it's a voluntary program, so the ones who are there want to be there. But for the most part, they've been gracious, positive and open."

She believes that centering prayer can reach the core of the participants, and that's where change takes place.

"We like to tell the prisoners that no matter what they did that put them into prison, there is always a way back, but it requires a change of heart," she said. "They can change their behavior. They can change their thinking. If they sincerely open their hearts to the divine as they know it, they will be moved toward loving action."

Jeff Strickler • 612-673-7392

Jeff Strickler • jstrickler@startribune.com

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