Recently released inmates often find themselves alone, with less than $10 in hand and no job prospects to sustain their lives. The onslaught of challenges they face trying to reintegrate into society is daunting, and close to half end up back in prison within five years. In St. Louis, Missouri, thanks to a far-seeing non-profit Inside Dharma, ex-offenders are getting a second chance. Led by Rev. Karlene Kalen McAllister, an ordained Buddhist priest and former chaplain with the Missouri Department of Corrections, its compassionate charity and comprehensive outreach through Laughing Bear Bakery is turning lives around, giving birth to self-esteem and a renewed place in the world for people yearning to start over.
In the center of downtown St. Louis, Missouri, the non-profit Inside Dharma – founded by Rev. Karlene Kalen McAllister, ordained Buddhist priest and former chaplain with the state’s Department of Corrections – is dedicated to offering teachings, support, encouragement, and more to incarcerated and recently released individuals in a manner consistent with Buddhist principles. Their outreach – which includes charity, a newsletter and resource guide, a place to practice together at the Shinzo Meditation Center, and a growing number of jobs at the Laughing Bear Bakery – is truly giving second chances and helping reduce the high rate of recidivism.