Buddhist inmates in Washington state prisons are allowed to hold one celebration each year and invite family and friends from outside to attend.
In recent years prisoners at different units of the Monroe Correctional Complex have planned and hosted gatherings they call "Buddhafests". They spend a lot of time and energy creating a special event for their families and Dharma friends. The celebrations typically include a ceremony, sitting meditation, and a Dharma talk—followed by a joyful banquet.
Any Dharma practitioner interested in supporting prison sangha is welcome to attend. One need not have prior experience as a prison volunteer, nor does attendance entail any ongoing commitment.
At Monroe, the Twin Rivers Unit (TRU) holds its Buddhafest on Sunday, July 13th. The Washington State Reformatory (WSRU) Buddhafest takes place the following Sunday, July 20th. (Buddhist inmates at McNeil Island Correctional Center also host an annual Buddhist "Banquet," which is scheduled for August 23rd.)
People who wish to support Buddhist prisoners by participating in one of this year's celebrations must fill out required paperwork as soon as possible because it takes the prison system time to process the forms. According to MCC sponsor Caterina De Re, filling out a form doesn't commit you to going but is necessary to allow you the opportunity to attend.
Contributor: Caterina De Re.