Saybrook alumni David Paul, M.D., Ph.D. (06) and Bonnie Paul, Ph.D. (06) have been directing and presenting an ongoing series of workshops, titled Freedom to Choose, at Valley State Prison for Women (VSPW) in Chowchilla, California twice a year since 2004.
VSPW is one of the largest medium/maximum security women’s prisons in the world. A documentary about this work won “Best Documentary” at the Emerging Filmmakers Showcase at the Cannes Film Festival this year.
Drs. David and Bonnie Paul are faculty at the University of Santa Monica (USM), and they lead approximately 50 USM graduate volunteers from USM’s master’s degree program in Spiritual Psychology who travel at their own expense to spend three days with inmates. The 12th Freedom to Choose workshop at VSPW, scheduled for the end of October, will reach more than 300 inmates, including more than 100 inmate “mentors” who assist in the workshop. 95% of the participants (N=1,400) report more inner peace, less violence in their interactions with other inmates, and improved relationships(p<0.001).
The program was nominated for the 2006 American Correctional Association “Exemplary Offender Program Award.” Drs. Paul received the Bohemian Foundation’s E-Chievement Award in 2009. You can view the documentary at: https://usmfreedomtochoose.net/