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The mission is to offer healing and hope to people who are in prison, and to just engage with folks who don’t normally get very much attention or opportunity to transform in any sort of meaningful way.”

– Morgan Leyenberger –

Suffering is a daily fact of life for those living behind bars, yet the external conditions of incarceration aren’t the only source of frustration, as internal issues equally lead to pain. Anna Cox, a psychotherapist, knew this well when she founded the non-profit Compassion Works for All. Based in Little Rock, it’s the only Buddhist prison outreach organization in Arkansas, striving to offer “freedom from real and imagined prisons through compassion.” Anna’s vision inspired many to join the mission, and even after she retired, they continue to carry the torch, their compassionate service reaching deeply into the state’s correctional system.

The Inspiration

Compassion Works for All, based in Little Rock, is the only Buddhist prison outreach organization in Arkansas, which has one of the fastest growing prison populations in the country. The non-profit was founded by Anna Cox, a psychotherapist and devout Buddhist, whose deeply compassionate approach combined with her psychoanalytic understanding, became widely sought after, beginning on death row. All of their work within the correctional system is rooted in a theory of change that begins with healing. Staff and volunteers teach concentration and mindfulness meditation techniques; offer a compassionate communication and conflict resolution program; provide talks and readings from Buddhist teachers to encourage community and compassion; correspond with inmates; publish a newsletter; and more, bringing healing and hope to many.

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