As the spiritual director of Triple Gem Prison Ministries, Bhante was invited to perform Buddhist Initiation Ceremony for inmates at State Prison at Mahanoy. Bhante’s prison tour began at Riverfront State Prison in Camden, N.J. followed by a visit to the Buddhist inmate sangha at South Woods State Prison in Bridgeton, N.J. Between prison visits, Bhante and Sivali were invited for tea with former inmate Cuong Tran who was one of Bhante’s students at Mahanoy State Prison since 1998. This year, Bhante was invited to Berks County Prison for meditation with both male and female inmates; followed by a meditation workshop for correctional officers.
On travel in western Pennsylvania, Bhante’s prison tour took him for the first time to the State Prison at Somerset with about thirty inmates. The other state prisons were at Huntingdon and Houtzdale where Bhante had visited before. New this year was Bhante’s first visit to Rockview State Prison where the death chamber for state prisons is located. Bhante spoke to a group of 48 inmates.
Besides the three inmates at Mahanoy State Prison, Bhante perform Buddhist Initiation Ceremony for Dave McCue at Bodhi House. Dave was part of the inmate Buddhist sangha at Mahanoy and was released. One other inmate received Buddhist Initiation Ceremony from Bhante. Billy Gares, released from Coal Town State Prison, took initiation at the Buddhist Studies Workshop in Rye, N.Y.