PrisonEd Foundation

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Freedom Behind Bars

Freedom Behind Bars - cover

            Many write about life from the luxury of a yacht or the comfort of a fireplace.  What about those who write of life from the calamity of a prison cell?  What happens to the human soul when it is deprived of liberty, family, dignity, and often minimal survival needs?   There are those who surrender and collapse.  Yet there are those who, in the crucible of confinement, discover personal freedom.
            Dr. Wright was fascinated to discover ten values many of these prisoners had in common – values that sustained and invigorated them.  They are values that give hope to all – whether confined by steel bars or “mind-forged manacles.”
            This book tells the inspirational stories of sixteen notable prisoners, from Nelson Mandela and Corrie ten Boom to Fyodor Dostoevsky and Mohandas K. Gandhi.
            A glimpse into the messages of the mentors comes from Viktor Frankl: “…the sort of person the prisoner became was the result of an inner decision…any man can…decide what shall become of him – mentally and spiritually.”

Freedom Behind Bars may be purchased from  Book sales contribute to paying expenses for PrisonEd Foundation Books & Tutors program.  Note: a second book by Don Wright is available at Beside Still Waters.

See below for a list of mentors included in the book who have spent time in prison.


Nelson Mandela – President South Africa.  “…you may find that the cell is an ideal place to learn to know yourself, to search realistically and regularly the process of your own mind and feelings…”

Louis Zamperini – Prisoner of War.  “The post-war nightmares caused my life to crumble, but thanks to a confrontation with God…love replaced the hate I had…”

Alexandr Solzhenitsyn – Nobel Prize Winner.  “Bless you, prison!…I nourished my soul there, and I say without hesitation: Bless you, prison, for having been in my life!”

Corri ten Boom – Prisoner of War.  “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”

Viktor Frankl – Prisoner of War.  “…the sort of person the prisoner became was the result of an inner decision…any man can…decide what shall become of him – mentally and spiritually.”

Bill Dallas – University of San Quentin.  “I was astonished to discover how little I really required to live a contented, if seemingly Spartan, life…I learned to find contentment in the simple things…”

James B. Stockdale – Vice Admiral.  “Self-discipline was vital to self-respect…Self-indulgence is fatal…I would do 400 pushups a day, even when I had leg irons.”

Fyodor Dostoyevsky – 15 million books.  “Hell…is the suffering of being unable to love.”

Joan of Arc – from witch to saint.  “The most extraordinary person the human race has ever produced” – Mark Twain

Anwar Sadat – President of Egypt.  “It was in Cell 54 that I discovered that love is truly the key to everything.”

Jean Valjean – the truth of fiction.  “I shall die in a few minutes…Love each other dearly always. There is scarcely anything else in the world but that: to love one another…I see a light…I die happy.”

Boethius – condemned Roman emperor.  “You are confused because you have forgotten what you are…From this tiny spark, the living fire can be rekindled.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer – anti Nazi.  “You need to get right down to fundamentals, to come to terms with life, and for that you need plenty of time to yourself.”

Miguel de Cervantes – some say the greatest novel.  “Too much sanity may be madness and the maddest of all, to see life as it is and not as it should be.” 

Eldridge Cleaver – anarchist to advocate.  “[There is] a tiny spark hidden somewhere inside you which cannot die…this spark speaks to you of…of love.”

Mohandas K. Gandhi – my experiments with truth.  “My life is my message.”




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