Staff Spotlight: Kevin Martin

As a formerly incarcerated person I can speak to the challenges awaiting the inmate upon release. I served my time on the “installment plan”, meaning I was unable to stay sober and thus repeatedly violated my probation and returned to prison. I first met Piers Kaniuka (fellow co-founder of the Liberation Institute) in January of 2013 at the very end of my eight-year sentence. My life changed dramatically over a short span of 49 days. During that time I completed the first 7 of the 12 Steps of AA, began a contemplative practice, and studied the causes of addiction and the dynamics of mass incarceration. With recovery came a deep desire to help those who were likewise trapped in the cycle of addiction – incarceration. This desire has brought me to where I am today. My experience of prison and recovery has shown me what is possible if someone is given the right tools and information.

Presently I am working towards a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Maine in Augusta. (I have a GPA of 3.8). My major is “Human Rights and Social Justice”. UMA has given me the opportunity to study the impact and causes of mass incarceration, addiction, and trauma through the lenses of history, philosophy, and psychology. I have also just completed a 2 year course in Spiritual Direction and am working towards a 200 hr Yoga Teacher certification. I firmly believe that many addicted inmates could heal from a modality that incorporates recovery, wellness, and education. (It is especially imperative that the incarcerated addict come to understand the forces that put him in prison. Bruce Alexander’s “Dislocation Theory of Addiction has been extremely valuable in this regard.)

It is also imperative that the inmate find community immediately upon release. I was most fortunate in this regard as I have a loving and supportive family and was quickly introduced to members of the recovery community. Without them I would not have made it. The Liberation Institute strives to provide such fellowship to folks both in and out of prison. I cannot say enough about the healing we have witnessed over the course of our inaugural yoga teacher training at the Maine State Prison. I am truly grateful for the life I have been given but even more so for the chance to carry this message to the very place I served time.

Kevin Martin