San Quentin Rehab Program Focuses on Criminal Moments


Jacques Verduin heads the Insight Prison Project, which run 18 programs for 300 men at California’s San Quentin Prison, the Christian Science Monitor reports. Prison, he says, treats men as failures whose violent behavior ifies their right to make decisions. That model leaves them ill-equipped to do anything but repeat the behavior outside, he believes. His goal is to introduce a more productive kind of rehabilitation – one he believes in so deeply that he does it no cost to the prison. “We’re saying we’re going to welcome you in as somebody who forgot who he was when he did what he did,” says Verduin.

Verduin cites a class of men serving life terms. Between the 18 of them they’d served 403 years. Then they added up the lengths of their moments of imminent danger. “Forty-three minutes,” he says. “That’s all [] To then call everybody who’s not successfully negotiated that moment a monster – not to distinguish between the person and his behavior – that’s a huge price to pay as a culture.” Born in Holland, Verduin left behind a private practice in somatic psychology to teach in prisons. “I want to make a bumper sticker that says, ‘Save the Males,’ ” he says. “There’s compassion for everybody, except for an adult male that’s made a mistake in his life.” It’s a lesson he says he learned since he started at San Quentin 10 years ago.


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