From March to October 2019 the Dreamwork For Prisoners initiative continues growing. Numbers soared since February increasing from 14 participants to more than 50. There were 7,516 calls made to the crisis phone line during this time. As inmates get transferred or released they stay in contact, which opens us up to work with more and more jails across Canada. We now have inmates calling from Maplehurst, Toronto South, Penetang, Lindsay, Kingston, Thorold Detention Center and Springhill Institution. We are running four phone lines to handle the volume of calls and are actively seeking to train more volunteers to receive calls.
We also continue to connect with friends & family of inmates offering encouragement, support, resources, etc.
The most remarkable transformation takes place with the inmates who call regularly, sometimes daily. In our calls, we talk about some of the biggest challenges the inmate faces but also discuss their greatest strengths so that we can visualize a very bright future for the inmate. Often times inmates or their family members share dreams with me and I give an interpretation which provides a key to unlock their positive potential so that they can get really uplifted and excited about the many opportunities in life for growth.
On any given day, there is an average of 5-7 callers who talk anywhere between 20 – 60 minutes. I often take the phone
with me while I’m grocery shopping, or cleaning the house, or out for a run. In this way, I’m able to do the regular day-to-day things around the house and also support the callers with the issues they are facing.
Many of the issues which show up are related to childhood trauma & sexual abuse, addictions, patterns of anger or violent tendencies, feeling a lot of disappointment or dealing with strong feelings of guilt or remorse for the actions associated with their charges. Many of them either have court coming up or have just return from a court hearing and are often feeling discouraged with the lengthy trial process.
In addition to the therapy work I do with the inmates, I also sometimes support them with legal matters. I’ve written three letters of reference for consideration during sentencing or parole, attended the sentencing hearing for an inmate, and researched components of a case to help the inmate understand the legal jargon and case law related to his trial.
In July 2019, the Community Transformation Foundation (CTF) was created, a non-profit organization which seeks to support victims & perpetrators of crime. CTF is supported by volunteers and donations which keep the phone lines running, the letters flowing, and the program growing. If you would like to donate to CTF or offer time or skills to our programs, please click on this link to contact us. We look forward to hearing from new volunteers.