History, Mission and Core Values

How did CPP Begin?
Compassion Prison Project began as the brainchild of award-winning producer Fritzi Horstman, whose own childhood trauma helped shape its conception. Over the course of several months in 2019-2020, Fritzi and a dedicated team of facilitators and volunteers partnered with incarcerated men at a Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP), a maximum-security prison in Central California. Together, they created powerful tools to address and heal from childhood trauma.
During 2019, the men at KVSP and CPP, utilizing techniques such as mindfulness, meditation and the power of intention, explored childhood trauma and the impact it has had on their lives. Understanding the shame and dehumanization that results from both child abuse and incarceration, these men found ways to make amends to themselves, the people they’d harmed and their communities. They learned what it means to have deeper compassion for themselves and others, what it means to have a sense of belonging by recognizing our shared humanity. Through this process they began honoring and uplifting one another while joining together as a community.
In February of 2020, Fritzi and a film crew went to California State Prison – Los Angeles County in Lancaster, where 235 men participated in a powerful exercise that addressed childhood trauma. The immense importance of that day was captured in two short films, Step Inside the Circle and Honor Yard, which explore the significant correlation between ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) and the lives of the men and women who are incarcerated. While our videos went viral with over 2.5 million views – the real story is how so many lives can be transformed by addressing childhood trauma through increased awareness and compassionate understanding.

In response, CPP has developed several projects which support our goal of creating trauma-informed prisons throughout the U.S. and internationally. This means trauma-informed awareness for both those behind bars and those working within the prison system. CPP’s ultimate mission is to transform prisons into healing and education centers so that the most traumatized people in our society can be supported and cared for.

As the recognition of Compassion Prison Project has grown, volunteers from across the world have come forth to help spread awareness about ACEs and childhood trauma. CPP Volunteers (Compassion Ambassadors) include currently and formerly incarcerated men and women, family members, therapists and psychologists, artists, writers, college students, community activists and more.

Arthur Jeon

Founding Member, Compassion Ambassador

Vivianne Nacif

Founding Member, Compassion Ambassador

Monica Chiapa

Founding Member, Compassion Ambassador

Samual Brown

Compassion Ambassador at California State Prison, Los Angeles County

Reu’el

Compassion Ambassador at Kern Valley State Prison, Facility A

David D.

Compassion Ambassador at Kern Valley State Prison, Facility A

Russell Wardlow

Compassion Ambassador, Nebraska Department of Corrections

Shawn Whitsell

Prison and Community Outreach, Strategy

Rosann Simeroth

Fundraising and Development

Lea Silvert

Fundraising and Development

Regann Flynn

Compassion Ambassador

Sheila Darcey

Strategy & Marketing Support

Ted Kamp

Compassion Ambassador

Tavackus L. Dawson

Compassion Ambassador

Terence Ayodi

Compassion Ambassador

Kevin Mays

Compassion Ambassador

Jill NielsenFarrell

Compassion Ambassador

Noah Bleakley

Compassion Ambassador

Lesa Lacey

Letter Writing Supervisor

Nina Zolezzi

Compassion Ambassador (CPP International)

Emily B. Evans

Compassion Ambassador

Lizanne Ury

Compassion Ambassador

Hailey Fortson

Compassion Ambassador

Lisa Udelson

Compassion Ambassador

Becky Kribs

Compassion Ambassador

Adriana Holst

Compassion Ambassador

Amy Pham

Compassion Ambassador

Eldra Jackson III

Compassion Ambassador

Corey McCarthy

Compassion Ambassador

Misan Harriman

Compassion Ambassador

Michelle Ghilotti

Compassion Ambassador

Seth C. Kadish

Compassion Ambassador

Gilian Villatoro

Compassion Ambassador

Rose Kleinberg

Compassion Ambassador

Ryan Matthews

Compassion Ambassador

Colleen Koch

Compassion Ambassador

Suzanne Beaumont

Compassion Ambassador

Mark Anthony Johnson

Compassion Ambassador

Guy Felixbrodt

Compassion Ambassador

Vanessa Gutierrez

Compassion Ambassador

Snow Thorner

Compassion Ambassador

Katie Shannon

Compassion Ambassador

Vicki Robinson

Healing Toolbox Advisor

Villond Cook

Compassion Ambassador

Izabella Tapia

Compassion Ambassador

Elissa Berrol

Compassion Ambassador

Our Core Values

Graphic of the word CHANGE which represents Compassion Prison Project's core values

Compassion

We lead with Compassion in everything we do. There is no shame.

Humanity

We recognize the Humanity in all people and act towards the greater good.

Accountability

We hold ourselves Accountable and empower others to thrive within their community.

Nonviolence

We adhere to the principles of Nonviolence and non-violent communication.

Generosity

We continuously find ways to give back Generously to our communities. It is at the heart of everything we do.

Equity

We acknowledge that everyone's experience matters.
Please consider contributing today

CPP is a grassroots, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. We value every donation, no amount is too small. Your contribution directly funds CPP's projects and operations which support our mission to transform prisons and communities through compassionate action. All donations are tax deductible.

Compassion Prison Project © 2021. All Rights Reserved. Photography by Vivianne Nacif.

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