Led by Roshi and Shuka
With Special Guest Speaker Miyhosi Benton
Imagine living in a 6 x 9 foot prison cell day after day, year after year, in solitary confinement, with virtually no human contact. Now imagine receiving letters from a caring person who wants to learn about you, your thoughts and experiences—and to share his or her own.
If you think you might like to engage with an incarcerated person in this way, then join us Saturday, April 21, 10 am – 1 pm for a workshop with Roshi, Shuka, and our special guest speaker, Miyhosi Benton.
For three years, Village Zendo members have been corresponding with people in solitary confinement, in a project called Lifelines to Solitary. It began with a workshop and presentation led by Roshi and by the director of Solitary Watch, a web-based organization that addresses the issues of solitary confinement.
Now, with so many new people at the Zendo we are offering this workshop again. And we are delighted to have a special guest speaker—Miyhosi Benton, a formerly incarcerated woman, who can give us a rare perspective on women’s experience of prison. Miyhosi is an advocate for criminal justice reform, taking on issues from the shackling of pregnant women to ending mass incarceration and dismantling the criminal justice system itself.
The workshop will offer guidelines for letter writing, and sharing of experiences by some of those in the project. We will write and share sample letters. Solitary Watch continues to be our partner, providing us with guidelines and the names and addresses of people to write to.
For men and women sitting, year after year, in the isolation of a tiny cell, letters from caring people are indeed a lifeline. But it’s not just about serving and “doing good.” The experience of hearing these voices, learning about these individuals’ lives and concerns and thoughts, and exchanging our own, enlarges us, expands our own humanity.
You may not be sure you want to enter such a correspondence—but come to the workshop just for the experience, then decide.
To sign up for the workshop contact Shuka: firstname.lastname@example.org
Suggested Donation: $10
Miyhosi Benton is an experienced advocate for criminal justice reform surrounding the shackling of pregnant incarcerated women, the conditions of the criminal justice system and ways of dismantling the current criminal justice system. Miyhosi’s work as an activist and community leader has created opportunities for other girls and women to step into their full power and agency. Miyhosi has been invited to share her thoughts about women and mass incarceration in various public forums, including state, regional, and national conferences. Her commentary has been highlighted in a number of known publications such as Huffington Post, The Nation, Al Jazeera America, and Washington Square News.
As the Associate at the Women & Justice Project (WJP), a non-profit organization dedicated to centering the leadership of women directly impacted by incarceration in its work to end mass incarceration and criminalization in the U.S.; Miyhosi leads WJP’s storytelling, advocacy, organizing and culture change work. She serves as a lead spokesperson for the organization in the public and the press.
Miyhosi’s leadership, courage, and conviction led the successful campaign to pass the 2015 Anti-Shackling law banning the barbaric practice of shackling incarcerated pregnant women in New York State, the most progressive law of its kind in the nation. Miyhosi is an Advisory Circle Member for the NoVo’s Foundation, Women’s Building, and resides in Long Island City with her two children while completing her bachelor’s degree in Communications. Miyhosi is a recipient of both the Susan B. Anthony Award from the National Organization for Women–NYC and the Hour Children Mother of the Year Award.