Saint Badass

How Friendship & Support For Meditation, Mindfulness, & Kindness Facilitated Transcendence While in Tucker Max

Saint Badass is a story spanning six years worth of letters and growing friendships between four prisoners and author Doug Carnine. Each prisoner faces various crises in prison including disabling illness, a brain tumor, a prison gang attack, family betrayal, medical abuse and harsh punishments for mild offenses.  Each prisoner in his own way achieves transcendence through his crisis using mindfulness, meditation and the blessings of kindness. Juxtapose the destructive forces of an abusive childhood, a criminal adulthood, life without parole in prison with their incongruously continuous acts of kindness. Contrast the horror of the prisoners’ upbringings- with their growing concern for the wellbeing of others. Their voices are raw and honest, and at times inspiring.
Saint Badass, Friendship
“We must never forget that we may also find meaning in life even when confronted with a hopeless situation, when facing a fate that cannot be changed. For what then matters is to bear witness to the uniquely human potential at its best, which is to transform a personal tragedy into a triumph, to turn one’s predicament into a human achievement.” Viktor E. Frankl

Reviews of Saint Badass

“Saint Badass isn’t simply about the transformative power of sincere spiritual practice. It demonstrates the impact of our practice on our environment and the people around us. These men have many reasons to be filled with hate, to be violent, and to be completely shut down given the lives they are leading in the bowels of the hell realm of our society, our prisons. And yet. They transform. One of them glows in the dark, I swear. Reading the book gave me hope.”Geri Larkin
Founding Teacher, Still Point Zen Buddhist Temple
and author Stumbling Toward Enlightenment
“Through their practice of mindfulness and kindness, the suffering men who tell their stories in Saint Badass, are transformed and find, at least at times, redemption. This is healing and inspiring for readers. If these prisoners can have moments of self-awareness, if they can practice mindfulness, if they can express kindness to each other and themselves, so can I. So can we all. I urge you to read this beautiful book.”Barbara Gates
author of Already Home: A Topography of Spirit and Place
and Editor-in-Chief for 31 years of Inquiring Mind Journal

Tucker Max: Hell On Earth

Tucker Max Security Prison
“Early in my beginning of doing time I witnessed a man being beaten because someone scuffed the guy’s shoes by not watching where he was going. Then I saw a man get his throat cut because he stepped in front of another man; in here that is very disrespectful unless one says “Excuse me.”Tad, One Of The Featured Prisoners In Saint Badass
“When should I concede that they are going to take my eyesight by not providing me with the prescribed medications? I have almost decided that at my next post-op visit I will tell ole Dr. Stater or Dr. Morshedi (my ophthalmologist) to just pluck my eyes out and send them to CCS [Correct Care Solutions] on a silver platter. “Steven, One Of The Featured Prisoners In Saint Badass
“There are guys who have more than a thousand days in the hole. Curtis Pittman has been “in” the Hole since 2000 and still has five years to go in there. He is very seriously mentally ill but he could have gone home in 2010. (Mentally ill prisoners usually get sent to the hole for acts caused by their mental illness. Some of them spend much of their waking hours screaming.)”Roy, One Of The Featured Prisoners In Saint Badass

How It Started

At first, Roy Tester was writing one of Doug Carnine’s daughters Then Roy asked her if she knew anyone he could ask about meditation. She referred him to Doug which led to a blossoming friendship that began in 2009 and is continuing today.


  • Serendipitous Introduction
  • A Healing Transcendence
  • A Cycle Of Guidance & Experimentation

The Letters

As Doug and Roy hit it off, Doug sent numerous support materials on mindfulness and meditation that created a flood of materials within Arkansas based Tucker Maximum Security. The inspiration of witnessing Roy’s personal transcendent qualities led three other prisoners to seek guidance and pen-pal connection with Doug.

Connection Heals

  • Emptying One’s Load
  • Compassionate Listening
  • Empathy Driven Friendship


Prison Art

One of the prisoners featured in Saint Badass is a talented artist. Due to limited supplies, he initially made art on envelopes and mailed out one piece at a time to Doug. Initially his limited access to supplies necessitated using M&M and Skittles candy for color.

Inspired Art

  • Each Piece Survived The Postal Service
  • Kindness & Meditation Inspired
  • Prints Available

Roy’s Transformation With Doug’s Support

Roy was curious about mindfulness and meditation practices and was told that Doug had been practicing for nearly four decades. Their mutual friendship over a shared affinity for mindfulness and kindness has grown over six years of correspondence.

Having been repeatedly molested as a child, Roy had a deep-held habit of anger and hatred toward child molesters. ‘Chomo’ is derogatory slang for someone who has committed these crimes. Several years of mindfulness and kindness practice allowed him to break that habit of hatred, as evidenced from his letter:

“Much as I used to hate child molesters [chomos], one time the folks [guards] put one in with us. When I realized what was up, everything went deathly quiet. Psycho Mike and Hatchet Jack were getting their shanks off the top of the ductwork in the bathroom and I knew they were fixing to pop more holes than a sieve in this little geeky nerd-looking dude and slice him up, so I got off my bed, and went straight at the dude. When I got in his face I said, “You sick chomomaggot piece of shit I’m gonna kill your m-f-ing ass,” and slapped him, but cupped my hand right before it connected so it would pop loud and sound like I really hit him harder than what I did and said under my breath, “Run for the door or they’re gonna kill you!” And he did just that. I acted like I tripped and couldn’t grab him fast enough.

“Run for the door or they’re gonna kill you!”

They locked me up for assault but I didn’t care because those two killers would have killed him. As much as I hated child molesters, I still didn’t want him to die. I even looked proper in the other inmates’ eyes because I attacked a chomo. The dude’s mom wrote to me and said her son told her what I did. I thought she was going to cuss me out for slapping her son, but she said, “My son said you saved his life.” And he explained how I did it. She sent me $50 and a box full of novels. Ain’t that something? The dude went to Protective Custody. I didn’t want to harm the dude, but that was the only option I could see.”

“The key to less pain and suffering for anyone is to focus on others. Damn it, it works because I use it daily. Just getting folks to really try it though ain’t easy because most everybody is so used to thinking about self only.”
—Roy Tester

Story Outline & Key Characters

How the structure of the story flows and what order of details follows.

  • PART 1: The Beginning Of Letting Go And Kindness Partnership

    The initial letters exchanged, Roy’s background, and reflections about practicing mindfulness, meditation & kindness as a spiritual practice.

  • PART 2: Roy Expands The Kindness Partnership

    Introductions to other inspired prisoners’ John Bruno, Tad (Roger Price), and Cody Griffin.

  • PART 3: Roy On The Brink Of Destruction

    Roy struggles with chronic pain, and endures ridicule and betrayal.

  • PART 4: Back On The Path Of Trancendence

    Individual stories from each prisoner regarding their personal development and deepening commitment.

  • PART 5: What I Did And What I Learned

    The kindness partnership with John, Tad and Cody continue to grow while Roy’s journey transitions inward in the face of devastating pain and other health issues.

“This kindness has many origins only some of which are Buddhist. It just happens that Buddhism is serving as the organizing force for our partnership to be mindful and spread kindness. There are many other pathways for expanding kindness.”Doug Carnine, Author of Saint Badass

An Awe Invoking Story

Insider's View Of Prison Life
Roy's Background & Exploration Of Kindness Through Buddhism
Inspired Prisoners Join Roy's Cause & Their Stories
Random Acts Of Kindness & Spiritual Journey Reflections
A Story of Transcendence YOu Can't Unsee
“Saint Badass isn’t simply about the transformative power of sincere spiritual practice. It demonstrates the impact of our practice on our environment and the people around us. These men have many reasons to be filled with hate, to be violent, and to be completely shut down given the lives they are leading in the bowels of the hell realm of our society, our prisons. And yet. They transform. One of them glows in the dark, I swear.  Reading the book gave me hope. And motivated me to, as my zen grandpapa would say, ‘try, try, try for ten thousand years,’ because it is exactly the right thing to do. Their lives are proof of this.”
Geri Larkin, Founding Teacher, Still Point Zen Buddhist Temple, Author of Close to the Ground
Saint Badass, Friendship

Ways To Hear The Story

Audio book

The Audiobook is available through Audible and where most Audiobooks are sold.


Available through Kindle and Smashwords.

Price: 4.99 


Available through Amazon. You can also request your local bookstore or library order it from IngramSpark.

Price: 12.00

“Effective kindness often begins with weakening your unkind selfish habits.” -Doug Carnine


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