Brilliance Inside

Our Theory of Change 


Instead of being a dehumanizing place of separation, where violence wins, where hate and alienation are ways of life, what if prison could become a transformative place of healing and peace?

This becomes possible as we heal our society’s cycle of violence.

By building a positive culture of empowerment and self-actualization, Brilliance Inside creates a safe environment where inmates build resilience, liberate their brilliance and impact themselves, their families and our greater communities.

The Existing Cycle of Violence

The impact of our society’s cycle of violence is measurable:


We use here the incarceration cycle as one of many depictions of our society’s cycle of violence. In each of its forms, this cycle

  • Perpetuates itself across generations

  • Breeds violence as past hurt creates future hurt

  • Has no end as it feeds upon itself

In most households where I - Mariette - grew up, families had at least one car, usually several. When we kids turned 16, we were given use of a car. Most of our kids today will have or did get a car to use when they turn(ed) 16. This is the norm.

Now, in the above paragraph, replace “car” with “gun”. This is the reality - the norm - of many prison residents’ childhoods. And you can even replace 16 with ages as young as 8!

Having grown up their entire lives in violence-filled neighborhoods, many prison residents say that they did not know they had other options. Even when they later recognize that we always have a choice, the residents’ past choices brought them to situations that felt helpless and without options. They often say they had to come to prison to discover other possibilities and choices.

 Two Steps to Healing the Cycle of Violence

We’ve learned that, as dumbfounding as it sounds, it is ironically those who perpetrated the cycle of violence who are in the best position to heal it.  YES! Because these perpetrators understand the dynamics of violence better than we ever will; and because once they connect to their brilliance, they become unstoppable in their desire to spread this light to others, rippling it out to their children and families, then other residents on the yard and the correctional officers, and even our greater communities.

While the goal feels enormous, this transformation is actually a 2-step process:

We create a safe space - with the right ingredients, described below - in which people uncover their light and ignite their unique brilliance.  People move from being a victim of their destructive lifestyles to taking ownership for their actions, their transformation and their future.

Our time in prison has shown us that the solution is "simple":  hurt people hurt people; healed people heal people. Therefore, by providing the tools and safe environment for real healing, we lessen the underlying triggers to future hurt.  The conversations between disconnected worlds held during our annual events remove the stigma of "other-ism" and participants move from fear to acceptance. By empowering people to support others' growth and healing, it heals the healer in the process.

Current programs: Ongoing transformational program, Conflict resolution, Nonviolent communication (NVC), Storytelling Intensive

Current programs:  Excelerate Inside, Outside

Seven Ingredients to Brilliance

We have uncovered 7 key ingredients to this transformation of self and of community.
These are infused in each Brilliance Inside program:

  1. Listen – Open, non-judgemental listening of all perspectives

  2. Liberate – Strong, uncompromising boundaries that create a safe space of exploration, expression, connection, communication, resolution and creation

  3. Empower – Place them at the center of all possible decision-making, with the responsibility and accountability for these

    Inspire and encourage ideation, activation, and execution of decision-making responsibilities

  4. Co-Create – Provide high autonomy for Enable their innate creativity by providing resources and removing hurdles to shine as their spirit is liberated

  5. Connect – Remove the stigma of “the other” to break down negative perceptions and create harmony

  6. Celebrate – Take the time to pause and reward, honor and broadcast desired behavior and person, acknowledging that small steps lead to the big goal, that the end of one thing is simply the beginning of another

  7. Bind – Constantly and continuously uphold the above ingredients, with never-ending presence and availability OR constant and continuous presence and availability, with a egalitarian implementation of the above ingredients

To move from a punitive system to one focused on healing, reconciliation, redemption and peace.