The Awakening Project

As a national leader in prison reform, Maine allows incarcerated individuals to continue their educations, earn Internet access, and secure income through remote work. While he was completing his master’s degree in positive psychology, Steven Clark became interested in how emotions go viral in the prison system. If fear, anger, and despair are so contagious in incarcerated settings, he wondered, how might he create a program to spread positive qualities like hope, humility, or dignity? This inquiry led him to create The Awakening.

In addition to designing and implementing an inmate-led peer-support program for personal development, The Awakening has now hosted ten groundbreaking online events. Never before has the world seen an inmate interview his state commissioner of prisons, or a British expert in peer-support programs in carceral settings, or even his own warden, before a global audience. Never before have currently and formerly incarcerated people and their families had a space to engage with current and former employees of the system and their families, as well as academics, activists, and others working in the realm of prison reform.

About one thousand people have registered for these events. The Awakening database has grown rapidly and now includes about 1400 people from several continents. 

The Awakening has also partnered with Columbia University to test a coaching program that pairs volunteers with recently released citizens. Based on its success, in the coming year The Awakening will launch a training program for volunteers who wish to support returning citizens with re-entry and reintegration.

The Awakening is rapidly gaining acclaim in the prison reform domain. The Alliance for Higher Education recently selected Steven to be a featured speaker at their upcoming national conference, and he has also been asked to facilitate for the upcoming National

Re-entry Conference. He has previously lectured in college settings, and he currently serves on the institutional review board for The Institute of Noetic Sciences — all from his jail cell in Maine.

“The true measure of a society is how it treats its most vulnerable members,” Mahatma

Gandhi famously said. It’s hard to imagine anyone more vulnerable than America’s incarcerated citizens. SupportingThe Awakening is an excellent opportunity for DLR to express its support for a more humane prison system — one that better reflects who we are and aspire to be as a nation in an increasingly interdependent world.

Participate in the Awakening

If you are interested in supporting this project please share your information here.

Our Project Leader

Steven Clark is an incarcerated GLEN member who has sourced a series of programs and methods that incarcerated prisoners can learn to deal with their process and pursue a developmental journey.