Fritzi Horstman interview with Mitch Matthews


We’re talking with Fritzi Horstman.  She’s the Founder and Executive Director of the Compassion Prison Project.  Before that, she was a Grammy Award Winning producer of projects like HBO’s “The Defiant Ones” as well as dozens of television projects, documentaries, and several films. 

In 2018, Fritzi had the experience of visiting a high-security prison and while she was there her heart broke.  She saw some things she thought needed to change, so she dove in to help.  A video that demonstrates the amazing work of the CPP has gone viral with millions of views.  In fact, that’s how I came across Fritzi’s story.  After watching the video… I dug into the story and was so impressed I wanted to have her on to share about her journey! She’s the example of someone who saw something that needed to be fixed and she came up with a tangible solution to help.  I think it will inspire you.  Let’s get to it.



Listen To The Podcast:

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The CPP Video we talked about:

Step Inside the Circle from Fritzi Horstman on Vimeo.



On February 12… 235 incarcerated men gathered in the yard of a California maximum-security prison to learn something about themselves.

These men formed a huge circle… and our guest… Fritzi Horstman… stood in the middle of that circle… alone… with a microphone… guiding them through an incredible process of awareness and healing.

Maybe you’ve seen the viral video that helps to tell the story… a million+ people have watched it… and it’s amazing.  (It’s featured in the resources section above.)

Fritzi reads a series of statements.  Each time… if these men could say yes to the statement… about their childhood… about the environment, they grew up in… about the abuse and trauma they faced… about the incredible challenges, they’d had to deal with… then they were asked to step further into the circle.

It’s a circle of compassion.

It’s a circle of no shame.

It’s a circle of healing.

Again… if you’ve seen the video… you know it’s an incredibly powerful and incredibly revealing process that we can all learn from.  

And that’s just the beginning of the “Compassion Prison Project” started by Fritzi.

This week, we’re going to talk with her about how she went from being a Grammy Award Winning producer to be the Founder and Executive Director of the Compassion Prison Project.

I hope it inspires you to DREAM and to THINK about the places where you see a problem that needs to be fixed… and to ask… “What can I DO to help?”



  • 0:02 What to expect today
  • 2:05 Meet Fritzi Horstman
  • 3:59 The back story of how it got started
  • 4:37 More about the Compassion Prison Project
  • 7:42 How trauma-affected Fritzi
  • 9:30 How extreme poverty affects the brain
  • 12:43 When Fritzi decided to be the change
  • 16:55 The peace that comes with not judging
  • 18:39 Become a problem solver
  • 21:59 The ACE test
  • 25:36 How Fritzi has overcome her own childhood trauma
  • 27:49 How to connect with Fritzi
  • 28:39 Mitch’s biggest takeaways


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