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Transforming Lives
from the Inside

Our Story:
The Need for Change

In 2004, we began working with “lifers” (incarcerated individuals who received a life sentence) in the largest maximum-security women’s prison in the world. Our initial team consisted of our founders, Drs. Bonnie and David Paul, and 25 volunteers.

“Freedom to Choose,” was inspired by the work of Viktor Frankl and his well-known book “Man’s Search for Meaning.”

Fundamental to his teaching was the lesson, hard-won as a survivor of the concentration camps, that every person always has the freedom to choose their response to the events of their life. This lesson serves as a cornerstone of what The Freedom to Choose Project teaches in prison.

In Frankl’s words:

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.”

“Everything can be taken from a person but the last of the human freedoms, the freedom to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances – to choose one’s own way.”

Today, we have helped thousands and offer large-scale workshops in prison for up to 200 incarcerated participants and 80+ volunteers.

We even have waiting lists on both sides.

Why is this work important?

95% of people who are incarcerated will be released at some point in time. Given that we want safer communities, teaching people in prison to become more peaceful makes sense.


Inner Freedom

People often ask, “What do you do there?” Imagine you became angry because someone pushed one of your buttons. Rather than yelling or shutting down, you could look inside yourself and dismantle your own inner anger button, responding far more wisely and peacefully. That’s inner freedom, and it’s the foundation of what we teach.

Our volunteers work with incarcerated participants in small groups, demonstrating the skills we teach by revealing their own personal challenges and feelings.

They listen to the incarcerated participants respectfully and nonjudgmentally, holding the space to voice their pain and regret.

Many of them share that it’s the first time in their lives they’ve felt heard. This mutual sharing breaks down the illusion that people are different, making room for genuine connection, human-to-human.


The Freedom to Choose Project transforms the lives of individuals impacted by incarceration through compassionate experiential education that has been proven to reduce prison violence and recidivism.


To transform the lives of individuals impacted by incarceration through compassionate experiential education


Divinely Guided Leadership

We listen within for the still, small voice of Spirit’s inspiration as it comes through the wisdom of our hearts. Spirit is our partner in this organization and we are dedicated to acting in ways that fulfill the highest good of all concerned. When we do this, we participate in opening to Grace.


We accept and creatively embrace the challenges of life, transforming challenges into stepping stones. We work together in cooperation and harmony, gratefully appreciating our own and each other’s strengths, contributions and value. We are soooooo flexible!

Walk Our Talk

We do our best to authentically “walk our talk,” demonstrating the skills that we teach. We consistently and gratefully use our skills to resolve our own emotional reactivity.


Our intention is to dynamically demonstrate excellence, supporting ourselves and each other in blooming fully and sharing our gifts. We take responsibility for our actions, holding a clear intention to consistently keep our agreements. We share our ideas and listen to each other openly and creatively, working together to create a culture of friendly feedback that supports excellence, growth and joy.


We delight in the opportunities we have to co-create more freedom inside ourselves and in the world. We encourage freedom of Authentic Self expression and freedom within our roles to function in ways that are fulfilling for each person. With that freedom comes responsibility to make choices that are in the highest good of all concerned.


We respect the value of every person, regardless of outer circumstances. We do our best to treat ourselves and each other with kindness, care and consideration. We respect the sacred and often confidential nature of our work.

Lifelong Learning

We are individually and collectively dedicated to learning and growth. We take responsibility for our own growth, our emotions and attitude.

Loving Service

We believe that loving service is one of the highest expressions of human consciousness, and it begins with taking good care of ourselves. We recognize that at our core, we are love and we bring loving forward in all the many ways we serve.


We take loving care of our resources, first and foremost ourselves. We engage in strategic planning and optimize processes to maximize our financial and people resources. As an outflow, we enjoy an ever-increasing flow of abundance on all levels!


We enjoy doing amazing work in the world, and we have a lot of fun in the process!


  • Take care of yourself so you can help take care of others.
  • Don’t hurt yourself and don’t hurt others.
  • Use everything for your upliftment, growth and learning.


Our work wouldn’t be possible without our incredible Team and dedicated Volunteers.


The Freedom to Choose Project, along with the co-directors Drs. David and Bonnie Paul have received numerous awards:

Nomination for a national award recognizing excellence in prison reform programs
Prison reform programs
“Giraffe Heroes”
“Local Hero”
Common Peace Center for the Advancement of Non-Violence. Link
“Service to Humanity”
University of Santa Monica
“E-Chievement Award”
Bohemian Foundation