Anna Debenham wanted to bring women in prison new perspective, new opportunities and new lives. She knew she had something to share but she couldn’t just knock on the door of the prison and ask to be let in. How do you get in any way?

Anna stumbled into, or her prayers were heard, when Jacqueline Hollows of Beyond Recovery, asked students at One Thought Institute for a volunteer to work in a men’s prison in England. Anna’s hand, “shot up” and the course of her life changed forever.

After moving to Portland, Oregon a year ago, Anna founded The Insight Alliance, providing three principles correctional counseling to men at Columbia River Correctional Institution and at Santiam Correctional Institution in Portland, Oregon. Soon she will join Coffee Creek Women’s Prison – finally providing women with the transformative new perspective she dreamed of.

A prison is a stark place with little resources for self-improvement. The little access prisoners have is controlled and well documented. People began to notice that Anna’s program was having an impact. Anecdotal evidence pointed to improved behaviors, better outcomes across programs and a lower recidivism rate.

In fact, prisoners are thirsty for change and Anna’s Insight Alliance program appears to be giving it to them. So, the McVety Grant is funding Anna, co-principle investigator Sarah Bowen and her graduate students from Pacific University, to run an initial feasibility research project – using science to observe the impact of this program on the mental health and wellbeing of the inmates.

We hope this initial investigation will pave the way to a longer and larger 2-year investigation (longitudinal design) down the road. Either way, mental health and wellbeing is worth every investigation!