Books

Grace Goes to Prison: An Inspiring Story of Hope and Humanity

Hear the story of how writing “Grace Goes to Prison” literally changed the direction of my life . . .

In 1975, a 37 year-old homemaker and former Avon lady named Marie Hamilton started visiting a group of prison inmates with one simple idea: to look for and affirm the good in them. In the 30 years that followed, she expanded that vision, creating unique programs to educate, empower and support inmates to be successful when paroled. Her volunteer work has challenged conventional wisdom about how to deal with criminals. She’s had no formal education in criminal justice, she isn’t part of the “system,” yet her programs have become an integral part of Pennsylvania’s prison system. She became a tireless advocate for restorative justice and alternatives to incarceration.

Discover how this unassuming woman touched the lives of thousands by tearing down walls of mistrust, bringing respect and humanity to people on both sides of prison bars.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Check out this radio interview on Northern Spirit Radio about the book, Marie Hamilton and restorative justice

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Here’s my radio essay on apologies and forgiveness that aired on NPR station WITF, as part of the national “This I Believe” project

You can find the transcript on the national “This I Believe” website

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Grace Tour: 74 Days and 8732 Miles for Restorative Justice

Available as an eBook here

Before my first book, Grace Goes to Prison, was even published, I fantasized about doing a national book tour. My fantasy included upscale hotels, expense account meals, limos, and large audiences hanging on my every word as I read from my best-selling masterpiece, then waiting patiently in long lines for the thrill of obtaining my autograph (sigh!)

In the spring of 2010, I set off on a cross-country book tour that would take me through 20 states.

But something happened on the way to my imaginary limo . . .

74 days, 8732 miles and 40 speaking engagements later, I understood that my life would never be the same.

This is the story of my journey.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Booking Speaking Engagements

I’m available for author talks, book signings and speaking engagements on the topics of:
• restorative justice
• mediation
• conflict resolution
• current issues in our criminal justice system (death penalty, juvenile justice, prisoner re-entry, and other topics)

Speaker Fees: Please contact me directly to discuss fees for workshops and speaking engagements.

To schedule speaking engagements, author talks, book signings, or workshops, contact me at:

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

2010 National Book Tour

During the first half of 2010, I had an amazing opportunity to do a national speaking tour for Grace Goes to Prison. For 74 days, I traveled across the United States, and had 40 speaking engagements in 30 cities in 16 states. I spoke at colleges and universities, at churches of many denominations, at libraries and bookstores, at retirement communities and other venues. It would be impossible to sum up that experience in just a few words (or even paragraphs) here. But if you’d like to know more about that experience, check out my latest book:

The Grace Tour: 74 Days and 8732 Miles for Restorative Justice

You can also find a map of my entire cross-country travel route here:

Since my return from the national tour, I continue to speak to audiences locally and regionally.

Here’s a list of my previous speaking engagements

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Reviews and endorsements for Grace Goes to Prison:

“I had heard of Marie’s work long before I met her: the prison unit that didn’t blow up during riots because of her nonviolence training program for inmates, her courage and compassion in working with people in prison. Now her inspiring story from small-town girl to justice advocate has been told, and told well. It needs to be heard.”
~ Dr. Howard Zehr, Professor of Restorative Justice, Eastern Mennonite University

“This powerful story shows how persistent compassion melts cold hearts and reconciles enemies…. even behind bars. An excellent resource for study and discussion.”
~ Donald B. Kraybill, Co-author Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy

“One of the men Marie worked with wrote “she was like an ear for the silent screams of men…and a voice for many who had never been heard.” He no doubt spoke for many others who have had the privilege of being involved with Marie’s work. Her generosity of spirit and genuine love for all fellow human beings is a model to which all of us should aspire. The story of her dedication over the past 30 years is extremely compelling and a definite must-read.”
~ Lorraine Stutzman Amstutz, Co-Director, Mennonite Central Committee Office on Justice and Peacebuilding

“This is an inspiring and engaging book. Slow and steady – always clear about her guiding vision – deeply rooted in love and respect for all – always working in partnerships – Marie follows the path that unfolds in front of her. She is a leader without any authority. She influences lives without any structural power. What a lesson about how to make change! Marie created spaces for connection, belonging and meaning for people on both sides of the prison bars. This is the story of an ordinary human being touching the lives of countless others through deep and abiding love. It is a moving story and it is a reminder of the capacity we all have to influence the lives of others.”
~ Kay Pranis, former Restorative Justice Planner for the Minnesota Department of Corrections and co-author of Peacemaking Circles: From Crime to Community

“Covering a span of more than thirty years, these true stories range from harrowing to hopeful to incredible. Marie Hamilton, a volunteer without formal criminal justice training, fearlessly confronted Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system, and dared to love its fiercest inmates. She developed unique educational, support, and restorative justice programs which frequently managed to change both sides’ hardened attitudes. Readers are likely to find their own long-held beliefs challenged as well, by Melanie Snyder’s amazing book. ‘Grace,’ surely one of our loveliest words, is displayed on every page.”
~ Diane Scott, co-writer with Millard Fuller on Bokotola, Love in the Mortar Joints and No More Shacks!

Grace Goes to Prison is a story of relentless compassion. The reader sees the clanging, numbing world of prison life through the eyes of a woman whose determination, resourcefulness, and fearless love won the trust of hardened prisoners and prison administrators alike. This is a story of one who sees each new problem as an opportunity, of a blessed community of volunteers, and of God’s faithful provision.”
~ Bob Gross, Executive Director, On Earth Peace

NOTE: The book is no longer available from Amazon, because Amazon refused to pay the shipping costs that my publisher, Brethren Press, incurred shipping copies of the book to Amazon. So please buy from Brethren Press.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

To order copies of Grace Goes to Prison, contact Brethren Press via phone: 1.800.441.3712 or via the Brethren Press website

Other press for Grace Goes to Prison:

Bonuses and Extra Info

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Restorative Justice and Victim Offender Mediation Links

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

About the Author
Melanie G. Snyder is the Executive Director of the Lancaster County Reentry Management Organization (RMO) – a coalition of over 50 organizations, including the Lancaster County Prison, social service agencies, Adult Probation & Parole, area churches and others, to improve community safety by helping people transitioning out of prison and back into Lancaster County to become productive citizens and remain crime-free. Melanie is an NIC-certified Offender Workforce Development Specialist, a certified Global Career Development Facilitator, and a certified instructor for the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Healing Communities model. She is also a trained restorative justice mediator. She is on the adjunct faculty at Elizabethtown College, and is frequently a guest speaker at colleges, civic groups, churches and other venues across the United States, on subjects including restorative justice, criminal justice, offender re-entry, families and children of offenders, and related topics.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Previous Speaking Engagements and Events:

11/17/2014 – Homes Within Reach Conference, Harrisburg, PA
11/11/2014 – Elizabethtown College Alumni Peace Fellowship, Reentry & Restorative Justice, Elizabethtown, PA
11/11/2014 – Healing Communities, Lancaster, PA
11/7/2014 – 2014 International Policy Conference – Inequality for All, Millersville University, Millersville, PA
10/23/2014 – Community Corrections Association of PA training, Pittsburgh, PA
10/21/2014 – Community Corrections Association of PA training, Mechanicsburg, PA
10/8/2014 – Brethren Volunteer Services Orientation – Restorative Justice, New Windsor, MD
9/10/2014 – Interview, On Earth Peace: Visions & Dreams of Building Peace: http://visionsanddreams.us/tagged/text
8/27/2014 – Restorative Justice interview on Permaculture Podcast – http://www.thepermaculturepodcast.com/2014/melanie/
8/22/2014 – Healing Communities Train the Trainer, Lancaster, PA
7/28/2014 – Brethren Volunteer Service Orientation – Restorative Justice, New Windsor, MD
7/25/2014 – Healing Communities Symposium, New York, NY
7/24/2014 – Motivational Interviewing and Reentry, State College, PA
7/14/2014 – 7/18/2014 – Lancaster Theological Seminary Summer Academy: Reentry: Where the Church and the Penal System Intersect
6/26/2014 – Reentry Summit – Hagerstown, MD
5/22/2014 – Delta Kappa Gamma, Camp Hill, PA
5/7/2014 – PA Workforce Development Association 30th Annual Employment, Training & Education Conference, Hershey, PA
5/4/2014 – Grandview United Methodist Church, Lancaster, PA
5/3/2014 – TEDx Lancaster, PA: #PrisonAsALastResort

TEDx Talk: #PrisonAsALastResort

5/1/2014 – Healing Communities, Lancaster, PA
4/29/2014 – South Central PA Housing Recovery Summit, York, PA
3/30/2014 – Mount Zion United Methodist Church, Akron, PA
3/23/2014 – Trinity Lutheran Church, Lancaster, PA
3/21/2014 – Lycoming College, Williamsport, PA
3/20/2014 – Changing Lives Through Literature alternative sentencing program, Williamsport, PA
3/14/2014 – Franklin County Community Reentry Forum, Chambersburg, PA
3/13/2014 – Healing Communities Train the Trainer, York, PA
3/12/2014 – Healing Communities Train the Trainer, York, PA
3/8/2014 – Healing Communities, Lancaster, PA
2/22/2014 – Day of Responsibility, State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill, PA
12/20/2013 – Lancaster County Workforce Summit, Lancaster, PA
12/7/2013 – Healing Communities, York, PA
12/5/2013 – Drexel University Forensic Rights and Treatment Conference, Harrisburg, PA
10/28/2013 – PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency, Criminal Justice Advisory Board Conference, State College, PA
10/24/2013 – Healing Communities, Lancaster, PA
10/21/2013 – Foulkeways, Gwynedd, PA
8/6/2013 – Healing Communities, Harrisburg, PA
7/14/2013 – Hamilton Park United Church of Christ, Lancaster, PA
7/9/2013 – State Employment Leadership Network (SELN), Presenter, National Webinar on Supporting Individuals with Criminal Backgrounds in Employment
6/19/2013 – National Conference on Restorative Justice, Toledo, OH
6/1/2013 – Healing Communities, Harrisburg, PA
4/24/2013 – Speakers’ Panel, “Pull of Gravity”, Millersville University, Lancaster, PA
4/20/2013 – Healing Communities, Lancaster, PA
4/5/2013 – Lycoming College, Williamsport, PA
4/4/2013 – Lycoming County Pre-Release Center, Williamsport, PA
2/17/2013 – Unitarian Universalist Church, Lancaster, PA
2/10/2013 – Grandview United Methodist Church, Lancaster, PA
2/7/2013 – Healing Communities, Lancaster, PA
2/1/2013 – Brethren Volunteer Service, Camp Ithiel, FL
1/12/2013 – Healing Communities, Valley Forge, PA
12/30/2012 – Lancaster Church of the Brethren, Lancaster, PA
12/18/2012 – Keynote Speaker: Lancaster County Drug Court Graduation
12/3/2012 – Housing Alliance of PA Conference: Housing and Justice For All Plenary, Harrisburg, PA
11/26/2012 – Elizabeth Hughes Society, Elizabethtown, PA
10/16/2012 – Widener University Southeastern Regional Reentry Conference, Chester, PA
10/4/2012 – Healing Communities, Lancaster, PA
10/3/2012 – Pennsylvania Library Association Annual Conference, Gettysburg, PA
10/2/2012 – Moravian Manor, Lititz, PA
9/30/2012 – Bible Centered Ministries International, Carlisle, PA
9/20/2012 – Brethren Volunteer Service, New Windsor, MD
9/15/2012 – Healing Communities, Lancaster, PA
9/4/2012 – 9/25/2012 – Life Story Writing Workshop, Lancaster, PA
7/20/2012 – Children of Incarcerated Parents Conference, Lancaster, PA
7/10/2012 – 7/31/2012 – Life Story Writing Workshop, Willow Street, PA
6/18/2012 – Brethren Volunteer Service, Chicago, IL
5/10/2012 – Healing Communities, Lancaster, PA
4/22/2012 and 4/29/2012 – Mountville Church of the Brethren, Mountville, PA
4/16/2012 – Chestnut Hill Cafe Film & Discussion, Lancaster, PA
4/2/2012 – Speaker’s Panel, Eastern Mennonite University at Lancaster, PA
3/24/2012 – Prison Ministry Forum, St Matthew’s United Methodist Church, Valley Forge, PA
3/22/2012 – Lancaster Public Library, Lancaster, PA
3/11/2012 – Elizabethtown Church of the Brethren, Elizabethtown, PA
3/10/2012 – Healing Communities, Lancaster, PA
3/3/2012 – Southwest District (PA) United Methodist Church Forum
2/18/2012 – Life Story Writing Workshop, Lancaster, PA
2/12/2012 – Miami First Church of the Brethren, Miami, FL
2/8/2012 – Brethren Volunteer Service, Gotha, FL
1/14/2012 – Keynote Speaker: Reentry Forum for Women Prisoners, Harrisburg, PA
11/16/2011 – Spring Creek Church of the Brethren, Hershey, PA
10/20/2011 – Book Discussion Group, Lancaster, PA
10/6/2011 – Book Discussion Group, Lancaster, PA
9/30/2011 – Book Discussion Group, Strasburg, PA
9/14/2011 – Pleasant View Retirement Community, Manheim, PA
6/20/2011 – Brethren Volunteer Service, New Windsor, MD
6/9/2011 – National Conference on Restorative Justice, Raleigh, NC
4/28/2011 – Lancaster County Diversity Day, Lancaster, PA
4/17/2011 – Community Mennonite Church, Lancaster, PA
4/14/2011 – Keynote Speaker, Lancaster Victim Offender Reconciliation Program (LAVORP) Annual Dinner, Lancaster, PA
4/11/2011 – Leacock Presbyterian Church, Paradise, PA
3/31/2011 – Garden Spot Village, New Holland, PA
2/8/2011 – Messiah College, Grantham, PA
2/6/2011 – New Covenant Church of the Brethren, Gotha, FL
2/4/2011 – Brethren Volunteer Service, Gotha, FL
11/21/2010 – Mountain View Church of the Brethren, Boise, ID
11/20/2010 – Keynote Speaker, Bethel Ministries Graduation, Boise, ID
11/14/2010 – Mechanic Grove Church of the Brethren, Quarryville, PA
11/8/2010 – Willow Valley Retirement Community, Willow Street, PA
11/4/2010 – Masonic Village, Elizabethtown, PA
10/27/2010 – Goucher College, Baltimore, MD
10/23/2010 – Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown, PA
10/20/2010 – Lycoming College, Williamsport, PA
10/12/2010 – Peace Church of the Brethren, Portland, OR
10/12/2010 – Interview, “Brethren Voices” television program
10/12/2010 – Brethren Volunteer Service, Portland, OR
10/6/2010 – First Church of God, Elizabethtown, PA
9/20/2010 – Mary Baldwin College, Staunton, VA
9/19/2010 – Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Waynesboro, VA
8/29/2010 – Radio Interview with Nathaniel Gadsden, “Profiles”, 95.3FM, Harrisburg, PA
8/8/2010 – Trinity Lutheran Church, Lancaster, PA
8/1/2010 – Mohn’s Hill Evangelical Congregational Church, Sinking Spring, PA
7/4/2010 – National Conference – Church of the Brethren, Pittsburgh, PA
6/27/2010 – Midtown Scholar Bookstore, Harrisburg, PA
6/11/2010 – Lutheran Synod Assembly – Lower Susquehanna, Grantham, PA
6/4/2010 – Camp Blue Diamond, Petersburg, PA
5/30/2010 – Elizabethtown Church of the Brethren, Elizabethtown, PA
5/19/2010 – Aaron’s Books, Lititz, PA
5/17/2010 – Fluvanna League of Women Voters, Lake Monticello, VA
5/6/2010 – Retirement Living Association, Masonic Village, Elizabethtown, PA
5/5/2010 – Milanof-Schock Library, Mount Joy, PA
4/25/2010 – Cincinnati Church of the Brethren, Cincinnati, OH
4/24/2010 – Peace Churches of Greater Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH
4/20/2010 – Timbercrest Senior Living, North Manchester, IN
4/20/2010 – Center for Nonviolence, Fort Wayne, IN
4/19/2010 – Manchester College, North Manchester, IN (multiple audiences)
4/18/2010 – Wabash Church of the Brethren, Wabash, IN
4/18/2010 – Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren, Fort Wayne, IN
4/17/2010 – Manchester COB, North Manchester, IN
4/17/2010 – Center for Nonviolence, Fort Wayne, IN
4/14/2010 – Church of the Brethren General Office, Elgin, IL
4/11/2010 – Radio Interview with Mark Helpsmeet, Northern Spirit Radio, Eau Claire, WI (http://northernspiritradio.org/audio.asp?showid=521572666918)
4/11/2010 – Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren, Elgin, IL
4/10/2010 – Morgan Park Presbyterian Church, Chicago, IL
4/9/2010 – Columbia Correctional Institution, Portage, WI
4/8/2010 – First Congregational United Church of Christ, Madison, WI
3/28/2010 – Warrensburg Church of the Brethren, Warrensburg, MO
3/25/2010 – The Cedars Retirement Community, McPherson, KS
3/21/2010 – Circle of Peace Church of the Brethren, Peoria, AZ
3/20/2010 – Papago Buttes Church of the Brethren, Scottsdale, AZ
3/15/2010 – Outcomes, Inc, Albuquerque, NM
3/7/2010 – Radio Interview with Myron Jackson, KZ88, Cabool, MO
3/7/2010 – Cabool Church of the Brethren, Cabool, MO
3/1/2010 – Keynote Speaker: Execute Art, Not People – First Congregational United Church of Christ, Asheville, NC
2/28/2010 – Blue Ridge Osondu Booksellers, Waynesville, NC
2/28/2010 – First Presbyterian Church, Asheville, NC
2/27/2010 – Keynote Speaker: Execute Art, Not People – Unitarian Universalist Church, Charlotte, NC
2/26/2010 – Providence Presbyterian Church, Hilton Head Island, SC
2/24/2010 – Trinity United Methodist Church, Myrtle Beach, SC
2/23/2010 – Campbell University School of Law, Raleigh, NC
2/22/2010 – Guilford College, Greensboro, NC
2/22/2010 – Conflict Resolution Center, Roanoke, VA
2/20/2010 – Earth & Tea Café, Harrisonburg, VA
2/18/2010 – St Paul’s Episcopal Church, Charlottesville, VA
2/18/2010 – Mary Baldwin College, Staunton, VA (multiple audiences)
2/16/2010 – Westminster Ridge Retirement Community, Westminster, MD
2/7/2010 – Lititz Church of the Brethren, Lititz, PA
2/2/2010 – Hempfield Rotary Club, Lancaster, PA
2/2/2010 – Pennsylvania Council of Churches, Harrisburg, PA
2/1/2010 – Homestead Village, Lancaster, PA
1/31/2010 – New Covenant Church of the Brethren, Gotha, FL
1/28/2010 – Brethren Volunteer Service, Camp Ithiel, Gotha, FL
1/7/2010 – United Methodist Women, Elizabethtown, PA
1/6/2010 – Kiwanis Club, Mount Joy, PA
1/4/2010 – Book Club – Elizabethtown Church of the Brethren, Elizabethtown, PA
12/11/2009 – Rotary Club, Elizabethtown, PA
12/10/2009 – Workforce Investment Board Workforce Summit, Lancaster, PA
11/14/2009 – Progressive Brethren Gathering, Elizabethtown, PA
11/11/2009 – Book Club – Charlottesville, VA
11/11/2009 – Mary Baldwin College, Staunton, VA (multiple audiences)
11/9/2009 – St Mark Lutheran Church, Charlottesville, VA
11/8/2009 – Friends Meeting, Charlottesville, VA
11/8/2009 – Valley Friends Meeting, Dayton, VA
11/5/2009 – Mary Baldwin College, Staunton, VA (multiple audiences)
10/29/2009 – Elizabethtown Public Library, Elizabethtown, PA
10/22/2009 – Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown, PA
10/17/2009 – Elizabethtown College Alumni Peace Fellowship, Elizabethtown, PA
10/16/2009 – CentrePeace, Bellefonte, PA
10/16/2009 – Radio Interview with Wes Richards, WBLF 970FM, Bellefonte, PA
10/16/2009 – Schlow Library, State College, PA
10/10/2009 – Ebenezer United Church of Christ, New Tripoli, PA
9/23/2009 – Grace Goes to Prison is officially released
9/23/2009 – Brethren Volunteer Service, New Windsor, MD
9/10/2009 – National Older Adult Conference, Lake Junaluska, NC
8/18/2009 – District Women’s Fellowship, Camp Swatara, Bethel, PA
6/29/2009 – Keynote Speaker: Brethren Press Breakfast at the National Conference – Church of the Brethren, San Diego, CA
5/17/2009 – Elizabethtown Church of the Brethren, Elizabethtown, PA