In 1991, an inmate in a Maryland state prison dreamt about the female Buddha Tara, and wrote to Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo. Jetsunma began to visit him personally, as did several other KPC students. Within a couple of years, he was released and became a regular at Kunzang Palyul Choling (KPC). Another inmate followed suit and in 1993 became one of KPC’s monks. In 1998, a group of inmates within the Roxbury Correctional Institute successfully lobbied to form the first sanctioned Buddhist group in the Maryland correctional system. One of KPC’s nuns, Rinchen Khandro, agreed to facilitate the group and the KPC Prison Program was born. KPC volunteers provide support to Buddhist groups in three state prisons, as well as a non-denominational meditation group in a fourth.
Since that time, the Roxbury Sangha, as they call themselves, has grown and meets twice a week for chanting, meditation, study, and discussion. KPC facilitators visit every other week. The Roxbury Sangha is quite dedicated. Many have taken formal refuge and bodhisattva vows, learned the main Nyingma practices and have designed and printed texts for themselves in the prison print shop. One man, Doyle, has completed the 100,000 prostrations of Ngondro practice. Another man took several months to build a perfectly proportioned, 12″ stupa out of popsicle sticks.
In addition to her teaching commitment, Ani Rinchen has been actively recruiting and training KPC volunteers; arranging for regular guest visits by Tibetan lamas, such as Khenchen Tsewang Gyatso and Khenpo Tenzin Norgey; advocating for expanded privileges within the system; and acquiring books for the groups’ Buddhist libraries, as well as ritual needs.
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To make a donation to the KPC Prison Program. Checks payable to KPC Prison Program.