A mobile app is being developed to help connect criminal defendants and other justice-impacted people to services and resources otherwise hard to access.
It is called the 8 Degrees of Yes, a therapeutic correspondence program provided through the Center of Truth and Transformation. It uses prayer to aid transformation and finding hope for healing in prison.
“I created (this program) to help others go through and reflect on life and see the negative events, pull them out to find a blessing and/ or the lesson in the event,” Truth Akins, founder of the program, told San Quentin News. The goal is to “ see the truth and release victimhood by forgiving and letting go, then share their story,” she added.
The program participants can sign up for an eight-month or eight-week course.
Akins uses her own life experience as a Black woman and veteran who has faced many injustices as an example to help others in the program.
“The first thing I have is my story,” said Akins. “I show how I have separated (the) eight life structures, and my desire to live (the 8 Degrees of desire to live life) in a structured way to reflect on and overcome.
“This shows our dominion over life and ability to manifest better outcomes in our life,” she added.
There are three sections in the program: a life satisfaction survey, a study book, and the pillars/testimonial-makers that helps the participants to forgive, let go and transform.
“The first thing we have is a survey. We go through it and we reflect on our satisfactions (and) what our life structures look like presently,” said Akins. “Next, is the workbook. We go through it and re-learn about all these life events and lessons and how we relate to each other in our stories.”
The program is/was actually structured for in-person group participants but due to the COVID-19 pandemic Akins had to restructure it for correspondence. “Culture Circles” were used for the story-sharing part of the program. Also, the group would “Problematize,” where they would deconstruct issues to determine the root causes for them and then design solutions to address those issues.
“We share(d)… in a space set with unconditional love and no judgment because we all have these challenges, just in different forms,” said Akins. “(This) is meant to be done with others, however, due to COVID, we have to work around it.”
Akins has more than 11 years working in correctional facilities in many different positions, most recently as an Adult Basic Education teacher at California Correctional Institution (Tehachapi).
She founded the Center of Truth and Transformation to help empower people to transform hopelessness to communities of hope, where those incarcerated can build skills and healing and to reduce crime.
“I have been able to pull all this into a program in order to guide others,” said Akins, “(to) structure it, because transformation has so many moving parts and is so complex.”
The power of prayer is one of those parts used for transformation inside the 8 Degrees of Yes lessons. There are 40 affirmative prayers, f ive prayers for each of the eight life structures to be prayed on a daily basis. This is to aid the participants to pray on truth and not on the false constructs from others’ ideas of truth, she said.
“We have to know life force energy for ourselves because that’s the truth. It is us. It’s within us,” she concluded.
P.O. Box 2141
Tehachapi, CA 93581-2141