PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A former prison inmate wants to help others who are behind bars through a book documenting her unlikely friendship with a spiritual teacher and her journey out of the darkness.
A few years ago, Isabelle Sinclair was spending time in downtown Portland, looking to score heroin. She was enrolled in college at the time but was caught with heroin on campus after less than 2 months.
Sinclair said she spent time living in a shelter and on the streets.
“My parents wanted to come help me but I was very stubborn — I didn’t want help,” she said.
She eventually ended up at the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville, where she signed up for a meditation class taught by spiritual advisor Stuart Perrin.
“She was this scrawny little kid,” Perrin recalled. “Twenty years old, with incredible fire in her eyes. I saw this was an incredibly intelligent kid.”
Perrin’s visits to the prison were sporadic since he doesn’t live in Oregon. He told KOIN 6 News his young new student eventually started sending him letters and he started answering them.
“We have 160 letters in there that we wrote to each other,” Perrin said.
Those letters led to a friendship and a book, called “From Darkness to Light.” It showcases the letters and highlights the turning point for Sinclair as her teacher taught her to build a system inside herself and a practice to connect to spirit.
“Without my practice, I do not think I’d be standing here and able to talk to you today,” Sinclair said. “I knew that is what I needed to move out of the hell I was living in.”
Sinclair is now a student at Reed College where she’s on the student senate. She’s also working to raise money to get copies of the book in various prisons — like Coffee Creek — to hopefully help other inmates.
“I think it’s a miracle when I was there I was able to connect with somebody like Stuart. I think people have their own paths,” she said.
A GoFundMe is raising money to help distribute “From Darkness to Light” to prisoners in Oregon.