Veronza Bowers, Jr.

Federal Prison

The Sound of Bamboo - Page 80

Veronza Bowers Jr. is a former member of the Black Panther Party who has been incarcerated since 1974, making him one of the longest-held inmates in federal prison.

In the more than four decades of his confinement, Veronza has become a model prisoner, greatly respected by both staff and fellow inmates at the facilities where he has been housed. During that time, he earned an Associate of Arts degree (Dean's List) from DeKalb College (now part of Georgia State University) in Atlanta. He is an author, musician, composer, teacher of Buddhist meditation, and an accomplished practitioner of Asian healing arts—expertise he offers freely and widely to assist inmates in coping with the harsh realities of prison life.

His established healing skills include Tsubo, Touch Point Massage Therapy, Reflexology, Acupressure, Muscle Testing, Yoga, Music Therapy, and Zen Meditation. Over the years, Veronza has conducted workshops in many of these "hands-on" healing arts. He is a trained practitioner of Touch for Health, a holistic kinesiology system, with a large clientele from all sectors within the prison population. At many of the facilities in which he has resided, Veronza was on-call 24 hours a day to assist prison staff in calming inmates stressed to the point of violence, as well as mentoring young inmates experiencing difficulty adapting to life in the penitentiary.

Veronza is certified by the National Federation of Professional Trainers, each year having to pass two qualifying examinations in order to maintain his license. He is also certified as a massage therapist by the International Sports Science Association. Veronza is a founding member of Youth Encouraging Supporters (Y.E.S.), a preemptive mentoring program he helped to create in which at-risk youth are brought into the prison giving them a close up look at life inside, and offering skills and encouragement to change the direction of their own lives.

Veronza is a founding member of the Spiritual and Cultural Council of Native Nations, as well as an honorary elder of the Lompoc Tribe of Five Feathers, a Native American spiritual and cultural group helping to keep inmates in touch with their indigenous roots and spiritual practices.

Along with the many activities and important roles he plays, Veronza is the main inspiration and organizer of the All-Faith Meditation Group, a non-denominational spiritual organization devoted to healing meditation using the shakuhachi flute which he has been blowing for over 30 years. Shakuhachi has long been a mainstay in his life.

A survivor of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, now in remission, but suffering from degenerative disc disease, Veronza is currently housed at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, North Carolina. Encouraged and supported by nurses and caregivers at the prison hospital, Veronza's day is taken up tending to the sick and dying in the hospice ward, gracing their presence with compassion, easing their pain by blowing shakuhachi, and dispensing palliative care via the many skills he has acquired over the years.

Veronza Bowers, Jr. is a member of the International Shakuhachi Society.


In Search of a Sound: Lessons from Bamboo
Shakuhachi and life in federal prison. Published in San Francisco Bay View. (December 25, 2019)

Meditation Healing with Shakuhachi
Veronza's article in the Kyoto Journal about the prison meditation group.

The Journey of Three Tai Hei
Veronza's letter to the World Shakuhachi Festival held in Boulder. Colorado, (July, 1998)

Veronza Bowers, Jr.
FCI-2, PO Box 1600
Butner, NC 27509

Arrow Updates to The Sound of Bamboo
Arrow Tai Hei Shakuhachi