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Special Programs

Evidence and science-based programs designed specifically for various professions and communities

Our work with members of society in environments where compassion can be hard to come by

It is hard to live a whole human life in a harsh environment. Harder still when society’s dominant narrative says you deserve to suffer and don’t belong or have the same rights as everyone else. Dominant narratives—including the ones we tell about ourselves and others, and the ones others tell about us—are usually too easy to be correct. We’re left thinking about each other in stereotypes, as archetypes, rather than as multifaceted individuals. The common narrative – “People who harm others should be locked away, often forever” is too simple and leaves little room for healing, deep inquiry into the truth, or reconciliation.

“In my work with people who have been incarcerated, (I've noticed) they find it a really rewarding activity to participate in. It’s a conversation that they don’t have very often, particularly talking specifically about compassion. And a lot of them find the mindfulness techniques to be really rewarding and the conversations around common humanity. For a lot of returning citizens, common humanity is their fight - really getting others to remember that they are humans. But that process starts when you remember that you are human yourself; and remember that other people that have gone through their experience as a human as well. So, having those kinds of conversations that go on through the CCT course is something that they find really rewarding. Particularly around remembering humanity.”
- Burrell Poe, Certified CCT Instructor

Incarcerated Citizens Initiative

Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola is the largest maximum-security prison in the United States, with at least 75% of inmates serving life sentences. With the support of Compassion Institute, Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) teacher Lara Naughton has collaborated with inmates and prison staff to bring compassion training to the challenging environment of Angola. Check out our blog post and video to learn more at
  • Connecting with common humanity

  • Re-opening the heart

  • Practicing mediation and mindfulness techniques

The training is in its pilot phase, in development by our Incarcerated Citizens team:

  • Lara Naughton

    Senior CCT Teacher
  • Margaret Cullen, MFT

    Founding Faculty, Compassion Institute

Bring Compassion Cultivation Training to Your Incarcerated Community

We seek to partner closely with jails, prisons, and other organizations that are responsible for our incarcerated communities, to introduce this training collaboratively. If you are a leader within such an organization, who is interested in the training, we would love to explore the possibility of partnering with you to pilot test and refine our curriculum. We look forward to connecting with you!

“I am grateful to [Senior CCT Instructor] Lara Naughton and the Compassion Training course for opening my mind to the reality that everything I require to be happy is already in my possession. That is forgiveness and compassion. I cannot say that after 57 years of not knowing peace and joy I have suddenly arrived. However, I can say that after this CCT course I have began the journey—finally! May the whole world be happy. May the whole world be free from suffering. May the whole world know peace and joy.”

Keith "Mustafa"
Incarcerated 34 years