The JoeLo Show
Fritzi Horstman: Lifting the Shame and Bringing Compassion into the Prison System

Fritzi Horstman: Lifting the Shame and Bringing Compassion into the Prison System

Fritzi Horstman is the Grammy Award-Winning Producer of “The Defiant Ones,” Co-Founder & President of INDependent Arising Films, and Founder & Executive Director of the Compassionate Prison Project. Throughout her career, she has produced and post-produced dozens of television projects and documentaries, as well as directed several films. 


In January 2019, Fritzi founded the Compassion Prison Project. The focus of CPP is to help those incarcerated find and express compassion for themselves and each other as they navigate confinement, addiction, depression and the devastating effects of childhood trauma. As with every facet of life, the way "out" of the toxic cycles is the path “in."  When we come to terms with our past and the childhood trauma we've endured, make amends for our trespasses, and find a way to restore justice, we can begin to look forward to forgiving ourselves, learning to trust, finding empathy and patience, and allowing the extraordinary person to emerge and blossom through education, community and love.



Three key takeaways:

1. It’s a simple but crucial algorithm: just lift the shame.

2. Trying is an excuse. We’re doing it and we’re doing it now.

3. When we’re healing the discarded and hidden men and women in our society, we’re healing the individuals that have been most ignored throughout their lives. When we do this, we also heal the discarded, hidden, and ignored pieces of ourselves.



We also talk about:

  • How Fritzi’s childhood trauma created a sense of not being enough, which later catalyzed her career as a filmmaker and producer.
  • Fritzi’s 20-year path working post-production with Paramount, which culminated with the production of “The Defiant Ones” and winning a Grammy for Best Musical Film.
  • Founding CPP in January of 2019 and developing a unique curriculum for compassion-based education, community, and healing.
  • Our country as one founded and cloaked in shame, and the opportunities for healing that this presents.
  • The U.S. has 1,719 prisons and over 2.3 million men and women in the system, yet only 4-5% of these individuals actually need to be in prison.
  • Understanding and implementing the ACE (Adverse Childhood Experience) Test within prison populations, which has shown a directly-linked decrease in life expectancy as the incidence of childhood trauma increases.
  • The steps of healing shame, beginning with trauma awareness and destigmatization; and how Compassion Trauma Circles have united 235 men through their shared suffering.
  • Utilizing the phrase, “There is no shame,” to diffuse, dismantle, and discharge our individual and societal addictions to shame.
  • Alchemizing self-love and self-awareness to activate our mutual humanity and spark mass consciousness.
  • The “Giving Back” Project, which supports our incarcerated brothers in finding ways to spread their newfound awareness and give back to their communities.
  • “35 in 35” — Fritzi’s goal to lead one Compassion Trauma Circle in each of California’s 35 prisons in the span of 35 days.
  • The 3-year vision for CPP — Turning every American prison into a trauma-informed wellness center #CHANGEISNOW.



Guest Resources:

Learn more about the Compassion Prison Project

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