Books and other resources

We're All Doing Time, by Bo LozoffThe following titles may be useful to inmates wanting to establish or sustain a meditation practice in prison, as well as to prison volunteers.

Sitting Inside, by Kobai Scott Whitney

Sitting Inside is a thorough guide, useful for both volunteers and inmates, of the challenges of practicing meditation behind bars. Kobai, who was formerly the Buddhist chaplain for the State of Washington, has experience both as an inmate and as a volunteer, and this book contains a wealth of information, including a number of suggestions for meditation practices.

This book is available for purchase from the Prison Dharma Network, who encourage you to purchase a copy on behalf of an inmate.

We’re All Doing Time, by Bo Lozoff

We’re All Doing Time is provided free to anyone in prison and to other shut-ins who can’t afford to pay for it. All proceeds from the sale of the book go to support this free distribution. Write to: Prison-Ashram Project, Rt.1, BOX 201-N, Durham, NC 27705, or you can purchase the book online.

It’s another invaluable resource for inmates and volunteers.

Books by Lama Choyin Rangdrol

Dharma books for inmates of African descent are available as a PDF download for less than $8. They can be duplicated by inmate sanghas and distributed freely within institutions. The books are quite short and so reproduction wouldn’t be too time-consuming or expensive.

Finding Freedom: Writings from Death Row, by Jarvis Jay Masters

This was the first prison Dharma book I ever read. It’s a collection of short pieces by Masters, who is on death row in San Quentin. In a very informal but very well-written way, he tells the story of his incarceration and conversion to Buddhist practice. He gives a fascinating first-hand account of the realities of practice in an exceedingly hostile environment.

Dharma in Hell, by Fleet Maull

Fleet Maull, a long time student of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and an ordained peacemaker priest in the Zen Peacemaker Order, founded both the Prison Dharma Network and the National Prison Hospice Association while serving 14 years in federal prison.

I haven’t had a chance to read this book yet, but it’s had good reviews. It’s available from the Prison Dharma Network.


Doing Time, Doing Vipassana

This video tells the fascinating and moving story of the introduction of Vipassana , or Insight, Meditation to prisons in India. Available in the US from Pariyatti publications.

4 Comments. Leave new

  • daniel driscoll
    May 23, 2007 1:54 pm

    I am a recently released Md. inmate who was introduced (and I use the word lightly) to meditation in prison. I want to learn the correct method. Can you send me any free books or pamphlets?

  • Hi Daniel,

    Our contact form is the best way to ask questions of this nature, but sure, email us your shipping address and we’ll be happy to ship you some books.

  • Jennifer Campbell
    December 8, 2011 5:37 pm

    Hello, thank you for sharing these resources. My partner has been in jail for 80 days and will return home next week. I have been called to do prison ministry and so has he. I am requesting any free material you may have to share with us. We will send a cash donation as soon as possible. Thank you for this service. My grandfather has been a prisoner of the war on drugs for 29 years. My heart is leading me to go into jails/prisons and teach meditation and share love and light. any resources, would be greatly appreciated and cherished.
    Thank you, Many Blessings,

    • Hi, Jennifer.

      I’m afraid we had to suspend our program of distributing books to inmates due to a lack of financial support, so unfortunately we can’t help you with materials.

      It’s good to hear that you feel called to prison ministry. It’s a very worthwhile and rewarding thing to do, and I wish you well.

      All the best,


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