As of January 9th, 2020 marks the beginning of a forth year of the FOUNDATIONS COURSE Bill Israel facilitates for prisoners, as a volunteer, inside the William Head Institution (WHI) on Vancouver Island. The FOUNDATIONS COURSE is a special title given to the INTENSIVE JOURNAL® program at the federal penitentiary. It is the same program which Bill offers to public audiences in the Capitol Regional District since 2015.

With support from the prison administration, program staff, Institutional Parole Officers and the Inmate Committee, the 12 week course is offered on a volunteer basis WHI to incarcerated prisoners in groups of 10 men per session.

Nearly 80 graduates have successfully completed the course to date, and the program is growing in popularity with the prison population. Many of these men are “Lifers”, serving sentences of 20 years or more. Below are a few samples of the feedback from recent participants, some of whom are preparing for release back into the community. The names are withheld in the interest of privacy and security for those who have completed the course. There is also a letter from a recent graduate who provided an unsolicited reflection on his 12 weeks of Intensive Journal writing:

Thoughts from a prisoner approved for release

In the past week I have been thinking about the workshop put together by Dr. Ira Progoff for assisting people in dealing with their subconscious/unconscious thoughts and feelings, as well as issues and relationships that have played a part in my life, whether big or small, known or unknown. I have come to some very interesting conclusions so far in my past 10+ sessions.

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“The most helpful part was the continued informal writing expressing oneself on paper – good or bad. Gave me meaningful thought that in my past I was lazy in my thinking and always felt negative. Being true to myself opens the door to spiritual steppingstones that I had lost when I was young. Re-opening this part of my life greatly improves my communication with others.”  (Quote from a LIFER in for 20 + years)

“This course has helped me to re-cap everything (programs) I participated in throughout my sentence. The difference, from another perspective, is the non-judgmental, positive energy of the good bunch of guys in our group. I am free from my negative intensity.”    (Quote: a LIFER in for 20 + years)

“The course opened a lot of past memories and things I tried to bury. Re-opening these life experiences helped to refresh some of the reasons I ended up here (in prison). Negative choices, a negative life style, all to cover my pain. This course really helped me understand why I made such poor decisions. It is an ‘amazing tool’ in my tool box to cope with trauma. My journal will help me improve my future.”    (Quote from a LIFER of 10 years)