A Texas prison is an unlikely setting about the transformative power of peace, but a new documentary, Inside Peace focuses on a peace education program at the Dominguez State prison in San Antonio Texas.
Filmmaker Cynthia Fitzpatrick chronicles the lives of several inmates both inside the prison as well as their lives following release as they explore the possibility of change. Fitzpatrick says the peace program impacted the prisoners on many levels from a reduction in violence in the overall prison population to a reduction in recidivism. “It did spill over eventually into the jail itself because the warden and the captain of education and captain of the guard said to me that they noticed the effect that it was having generally in the population and that there was less write ups…confrontations between inmates and what not.”
The Peace Education Program consists of a curriculum of 10 one-hour workshops designed to help inmates discover their own inner resources, innate tools for living such as inner strength, choice, and hope–and the possibility of personal peace.
“It was the first them they really I think heard that there was hope, there was possibility and that there was somebody who understood that they were worthy of change and that they could change. It comes to the core of every person that self esteem is something that is inherent in us and the ability to make choices that are good for you.”
One of the prisoners featured in the documentary is David Sigee, who now as a former inmate says the class had a profound effect on him.
“It was almost like fighting fire with water instead of fighting fire with fire, they showed us love not anger, so that right there broke the ice and got me and the rest of the guys who started going to the class…it got our attention.”
Inside Peace will be screened at the Dairy Arts Center in Boulder on Tuesday February 21st at 7pm, and at Chez Artiste in Denver on February 23rd at 7pm. Screenings are followed by a Skype Q & A with some of the featured prisoners.