Vipassana training for imprisoned persons

Perelman, A.M., et al. (2012). Meditation in a Deep South Prison: A Longitudinal Study of the Effects of Vipassana. [Abstract].
Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 51(3).

In an era marked by pronounced overcrowding, including an increasing number of offenders serving long-term sentences, correctional systems continue to search for innovative and effective treatments. Few jurisdictions have attempted non-Western approaches such as meditative practice to reduce stress, conflict, and rule infractions.

The current study examined the psychological and behavioral effects of intensive ten-day Vipassana Meditation (VM) retreats in a maximum security prison. VM goals and practice are consistent with evidence-based methods such as cognitive behavioral treatment and Risk-Need-Responsivity principles, as well as newer conceptions such as the Good Lives Model. Long-term offenders were followed over a one-year period. These included three retreat cohorts (n = 60) as well as an alternative treatment comparison group (n = 67).  …

VM participants achieved enhanced levels of mindfulness and emotional intelligence and had decreased mood disturbance relative to a comparison group. Both groups’ rates of behavioral infractions were reduced at one-year follow-up. Clinically, VM holds promise for addressing self-regulation and impulse control, among other barriers to prisoner adjustment and community reentry.


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