We Are Building American Buddhism

Prison Dharma Network

11 South Angell St., #303
Providence, RI 02906
Telephone: (401) 941-0791
Website: www.prisondharmanetwork.org
Attn: Fleet Maull

Description of Organization

The Prison Dharma Network (Prison Mindfulness Institute) was founded in 1989 by Acharya Fleet Maull, a Buddhist then serving a 14.5 year mandatory minimum sentence in federal prison for drug trafficking. Through Buddhist meditation practices and spiritual teachings of various Buddhist teachings, Acharya Maull rehabilitated himself and dedicated his organization to provide meditation-based and/or contemplative prison ministry programs and outreach projects through a network which has over 180 organizational members and over 2200 individual members. The purpose is to assure that every prisoner who is inclined toward employing meditation, contemplative spirituality and other transformative practices has access to the teachings and resources they need to realize their aspirations. The Prison Mindfulness Institute works directly with prison chaplains and other corrections staff to assist them in understanding and providing for healing, educational and spiritual needs of the prisoners and staff of their institutions in the context of a restorative and transformative approach to corrections. Prison Mindfulness Institute supports prisoners in the practice of contemplative disciplines, with an emphasis on sitting meditation practice and the practice and study of Buddhist teachings and other wisdom traditions. It promotes these paths of wakefulness and nonaggression as ideal vehicles for self-rehabilitation and personal transformation. Prison Mindfulness Institute also provides mindfulness-based staff development training for corrections professionals.

Grants(s) Awarded

In early, 2017, Prison Dharma Network, AKA Prison Mindfulness received a $20,000 grant to continue their Mindful Justice: Transforming our Criminal Justice System through Mindfulness program. This program was launched in 2014 with a seed grant from the Lenz Foundation. This program has helped to establish a national platform to bring mindfulness training and values into the criminal justice system. Through the various national meetings, research, writing, and workshops, Mindful Justice has helped the spread of mindfulness-based interventions throughout the criminal justice system and raised the awareness of mindfulness among criminal justice professionals and policy-makers.

The Foundation made a grant for the work of Fleet Maull's Prison Dharma Network in an amount up to $225,000 between 2008 and 2012, of which $225,000 has been disbursed.

In order to realize the full benefits of the grant, Prison Dharma Network was required to raise in new matching funds the sum of $150,000, and was successful in doing so.

In September, 2012, Prison Dharma Network received a $75,000 Pay It Forward loan in support of building out its programs. 

Results / Update

January 30, 2012 Update
Our strategic move from Colorado to Rhode Island mid 2010 for the purpose of locating in close proximity to a number of adult correctional facilities where we could directly manage effective research and training programs for prisoners and staff based on our innovative mindfulness-based emotional intelligence (MBEI) technology and curriculums as has proved successful beyond our greatest expectations.

Our work has been well-received by the Rhode Island Department of Corrections (RIDOC) and welcomed by the community of volunteers delivering mindfulness-based (meditation) programs in RIDOC facilities. During the past 18 months, we have established ongoing, weekly Path of Freedom™ programs (our proprietary MBEI curriculum) in two adult men’s and one adult women’s facility and have plans to include another women’s facility as soon as we have sufficient trained facilitators to source the additional classes.

We successfully navigated the Institutional Review Boards (IRB’s) for research on human subjects at the RIDOC and the Rhode Island College, one of our research partners, and began a five-year study on the effectiveness and impact of mindfulness-based programs for prisoners with our first research program at an RIDOC men’s medium facility in September 2011.

Lenz Foundation Funding: Through successfully optimizing a matching grant challenge by the Frederick P. Lenz Foundation, Prison Dharma Network received a total of $225,000 in Lenz Foundation funding between 2008 and 2011, receiving the final installment of $75,000 in April 2011. This unrestricted, capacity building grant has allowed us to added much needed staff and significantly improve both our programmatic and fund raising capacity (400% budget increase since 2008) while successfully executing a strategic move from Colorado to Rhode Island and maintaining a financially sound organization in challenging economic times.

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