Building a Foundation in Jamaica for the Creation of Reverence for Life University
The creation of RFLU has come to be as the result of a lifetime of dedication by Desmond D. Green to bring higher consciousness to the world. This would not have been accomplished without his wife who has shared equal vision and inspiration Dawn Vaz-Green. Likely the most impressive accomplishment was the transformation of the prison system in Jamaica in the 1990s. There are two books documenting the events and accomplishments of Desmond working under the authority of John Prescod. The following excerpts come from our dear friend Yvette Dubel who introduced Dr. Skadberg to Desmond in 2008.
Obviously Desmond is more than what he has done, but I will share a bit of this information to provide context for the talent and skills he brings to our collaboration. Adding his and Dawn Vaz Green (page Humanity: Dawn_Vaz_Green) ingredient has inspired a collaboration on BreathFusion, sharing The Practice and Reverence for Life as an action philosophy as an Ingredient.
- Special Studies while enrolled at Goddard College with the late Dr. Ross L. Mooney of the Ohio State University Perception Laboratory, exploring modes of perception and motivation (1966 until his death).
- During this period interacted with Professor Abraham Maslow of Brandeis University.
- Zen Philosophy at Goddard College under Paul Reptz, noted American Zen Philosopher
- Existential Philosophy under Jacob Amstutz, visiting Professor at Goddard College 1968 /69.
- Awarded fellowship to Harvard University in 2002 as a follow up to the Reverence For Life} initiative in the Jamaican prison system
- Evolving this approach with projects Dr. Skadberg has identified over last 33 years Reaching Out from Within
well as the dramatic reduction in prison violence that continues to be the report from all institutions.
This excerpt is from a case study at Harvard Law-Cyber Strategy for a Developing Nation: Case Study
- Charles Nesson, Ph.D., Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University
Prescod had been put in charge of Jamaica’s prison system in 1993. A military man, by background, he was appalled by what he saw in the prisons. He set out to change the culture of the prisons from penal to rehabilitative. To try to accomplish this he enlisted the assistance of a philosopher/preacher named Desmond Green, who accepted the assignment of going into the prisons to promote Reverence for Life among the inmates. Desmond Green preaches self-control and self-development through simple steps: Get in touch with yourself. Attend to your breathing, attend to what you eat, to how you exercise, how you speak, how you relate to others. Have reverence for life. He encouraged the formation of singing groups, and built trust by persuading Prescod to allow the temporary release of these groups to accept invitations from churches in Jamaica to sing on weekends, with minimal supervision. In fact, this program operated with minimal supervision. A test of trust was the inmates’ willingness to return at the end of the weekend furlough. The program flourished for several years without a single escape. Reverence for Life built a band room in the General Penitentiary, obtained musical instruments, and brought music to the prison.
Our initial approach was to capitalize on the inmates’ interest in music by using music as a means of teaching digital skills. We sought to develop a program in which computer labs in the prisons would serve as recording and production studios in which inmates would learn a range of useful (and employable) digital skills. This was a fine idea for an inmate skill-training program as far as it went, but it failed to take into account the opposition of the guards. Prescod had developed great antagonism for the warders, and they for him. From the warder viewpoint Prescod had taken the inmate side in a social environment in which the warders are powerful stakeholders with lives at risk. They felt he humiliated them. His rehabilitation program was in many ways an affront to their authority. In January 2000, when Prescod announced that he would extend his stay as commissioner for two more years, 800 guards went out on strike. Some say they expected the prisons would erupt in riot and Prescod would be forced to resign. But there was no riot. Prescod and Green had sufficiently established a trust environment sufficient to permit him to run the prisons for the next eighteen months with a skeleton crew of warders and a population of inmates who were largely controlling themselves and who were trusted to leave the prison in large numbers on weekend furloughs. This was the scene we’d come to observe and to document.
The book by Dawn Vaz-Green about the experience of Anthony "Fines" Ashwood entitled "A Passage Through the Valley of Death" tells the story of transformation that occurred as a result of developing The Practice in ones life. Anthony was one of the instigating inmates for prison reform. Anthony is now free sharing Reverence for Life after serving 22 years in prison, 10 years of which were on death row.
Ret. Col. John Prescod has also published a book "Advancing the Correctional Systems Into the New Millenium" about his experience as Commissioner of Prisons during this tumultuous yet transformative times. We hope to be able to make both of these books available and to one day inspire the making of a movie about this powerful demonstration for the application of Reverence for Life and Breath Consciousness.
"Passage Through the Shadow of the Valley of Death" - the story of Anthony "Fines" Ashwood
by Dawn Vaz-Green
The story of a prisoner's experience on death-row, and the transformation through Reverence for Life.
"Advancing the Correctional Systems into the New Millineum" by Colonel John Prescod
A perspective from the Ex-Commissioner of Prisons for implementing the Reverence for Life model for the transformation of the prison system in Jamaica. A success model for the world.