Om Time

What happens when you take a group of inmates at an overcrowded, maximum-security Alabama prison and introduce them to meditation via a Vipassana retreat — in which they must sit in complete silence for ten days, breaking only for meals and sleep?

A new documentary, The Dhamma Brothers, chronicles just such an experiment. Filmmaker Jenny Phillips followed the inmates through the physically and emotionally draining retreat and afterward. We’re introduced to Bruce Stewart and Jonathan Crowley, the Vipassana meditation teachers who move into Alabama’s Donaldson Correctional Facility and spend the retreat living among the incarcerated participants. We follow the selected inmates as they sit in silence, forced to come to terms with the actions that brought them to Donaldson and the people they became as a result. We meet residents of the surrounding area, who scoff at the viability of such “witchcraft” and opine that none of these men should be given second chances. And we watch as the inmates, one by one, accept themselves in their entirety — their crimes, their pasts and their futures. They own their actions and the consequences of their lapses in judgment, and despite opposition from the outside, they grow spiritually and are redeemed for their sins.

The Dhamma Brothers will give you new hope for our society, our prison system and our entire species; it screens at the Boulder Theater, 2032 14th Street in Boulder, tonight at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for this all-ages show are $10. For information, visit or, or call 303-786-7030.
Mon., Nov. 17, 7:30 p.m., 2008

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Amber Taufen has been writing about people, places and things in Denver since 2005. She works as an editor, writer, and production and process guru out of her home office in the foothills.
Contact: Amber Taufen