“But what does rehabilitation SMELL like?”

Lord of the Rings is a blessing to the world.

I’ve never met anyone who, after reading the book, wasn’t positively affected and touched by its messages of friendship and hope. And I’ve met quite a few who, after reading this novel, were inspired to do something great, or simply inspired to do the right thing –which is a kind of greatness — which is all we ask of the prisoners in our ABLE MINDS program.

Peter Jackson’s movies are remarkable —  but the book is so much better. Jackson could spend the rest of his movie-directing life trying to illustrate all of the life-affirming messages in those 1,150 pages.

And you better believe the prisoners respond to it. There’s a rabid reading core of fantasy fanatics in prisons, they can’t get enough of it. And the strangest thing of all is most of this stuff is one gigantic MORALITY PLAY! It’s all about good vs. evil, how light vanquishes the darkness, how the sun will eventually come out and shine again. The hearts of these men thrive on the hope that spills out of these tales. It’s curious, and it’s fascinating, and how they relate to it is miraculous. Sometimes, the smallest successes can be most gratifying — I love it when you see that figurative light bulb flash on over an inmates’ head and they ‘get’ something they didn’t know before. What you’re witnessing is socialization before your very eyes.

And the way you teach these programs matters, not only to the participants but also to yourself. In this course, I encourage you to be a model of integrity for yourself, so that you may preserve your own humanity in a perverse place. Of course, God only knows if, by doing so, you actually influence people for the better. But it can’t hurt to try. And you keep your mind and heart open to any self-discovery moments along the way. Always remember — you’re not preaching, but instructing. And the person you may instruct most may be yourself.

  • If you want to experience what rehabilitation LOOKS like, peek into a classroom when a teacher’s proctoring the GED exam
  • If you want to experience what rehabilitation SOUNDS like, attend a prisoner Toastmaster’s meeting
  • If you want to experience what rehabilitation FEELS like, give a bibliotherapy session.