They gathered in the prison yard of a California maximum-security prison. There, 235 men – for the first time – discovered something about themselves – and each other. The roads that led them to prison were paved with the same “bricks.” These bricks were called “Adverse Childhood Experiences” and include extreme poverty, child abuse, neglect, lovelessness, and other forms of childhood trauma.

The public, through this video also learns something. In the words of Dr. Gabor Mate, “When you study prison populations you see a common preponderance of childhood trauma and mental illness. The two go together. So what we have in prisons are the most traumatized people in our society.”

Fritzi Horstman, Founder of the Compassion Prison Project, leads the men in this video through a “Step Inside the Circle” exercise where they can see their past with “No Shame“ but rather with compassion. She ends the exercise with a declaration that their “true spirits are not violent, but (their) true spirits are magnificent.”

Ms. Horstman’s video also helps the public see the devastating effects of childhood trauma – so that with this deeper insight – communities can support those who work so that prisons may be transformed “into places that focus on education, mental health, and rehabilitation.“