Vermont inmates practicing Transcendental Meditation. Between 1982 and 1984 the Transcendental Meditation program was taught to staff and inmates in all six of Vermont's correctional centers.
The Transcendental Meditation program reduced the level of stress in prisoners, as measured physiologically by the number of spontaneous skin resistance responses. The study showed that regular practice of the TM technique was positively correlated with the degree of increase in autonomic stability. The more regularly a person meditated, the more he simultaneously gained in physiological stability and behavioral flexibility (reduced compulsiveness) accompanied by increased social outgoingness.
Ref: Scientific Research on the TM Program 1 (1971): 556-561.
The significant physiological changes in the direction of more balanced and stable functioning produce dramatic changes in the long-standing aberrant behavior patterns of the most recalcitrant inmates--drug abusers. Homeostasis in physiological functioning is correlated with significant positive trends in behavior. Further, these positive experiences while incarcerated carry over after release.
Ref: The International Journal of the Addictions 26(3) (1991): 293-325.
Eighty-one percent of U.S. state prison inmates in 1991 had served a prior sentence, many for violent offenses. An effective program of rehabilitation is critically important to break the cycle of violent crime and incarceration.
Maharishi's Transcendental Meditation program has been used effectively in more than thirty prisons in the U.S. and many more abroad. It has been taught to more than fifty thousand inmates. Transcendental Meditation has been uniformly successful in reducing hostility and aggression, increasing ego development, and reducing rule infractions and recidivism.
Transcendental Meditation is a simple, natural, mental technique practiced for fifteen to twenty minutes morning and evening with eyes closed. It involves no change in lifestyle or beliefs; it is not a religion or philosophy, and has no educational prerequisites. During the practice mind and body settle to a very deep state of restful alertness. This state of deep restfulness releases stress; it greatly benefits those in the depressing, often hostile environment of a prison.
The key findings regarding the use of the Transcendental Meditation program in prisons have been published in leading, peer-reviewed criminal justice journals. Abrams and Siegel published one of the first in Criminal Justice and Behavior (vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 3-20) in 1978, a cross-validation study based on research at Folsom State Prison in California. One-hundred-fifteen male inmates with sentences ranging from five years to double-life participated in the study. The results of the study--significant reductions in state and trait anxiety, hostility, insomnia, neuroticism, and behavioral infractions--lent early support to the claim that the Transcendental Meditation program is a scientific method of personal development applicable to rehabilitation.
Alexander, in his Harvard doctoral dissertation in 1982 (UMI Dissertation Abstracts, Ego Development, Personality and Behavioral Change in Inmates Practicing the Transcendental Meditation Technique or Participating in Other Programs: A Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Study, 8216181), described the results of teaching Transcendental Meditation to more than one hundred maximum security inmates at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution (MCI) at Walpole. Over a fifteen to seventeen-month period, and controlling for relevant demographic variables, meditators decreased significantly on aggression and mental disorders and scored substantially higher on the Loevinger ego development scale as compared to wait-list controls and members of four other rehabilitation programs. In fact, the inmates practicing Transcendental Meditation program increased more in one year than college students do in four. Other scales showed significant reductions in anxiety, aggression, tension, and introversion. The prediction that this inner development would produce behavioral changes after release was also borne out. Even after adjusting for demographic differences, meditators had recidivism rates 30-35% less than the four other treatment groups.
Bleick and Abrams published the results of a five-year follow-up of 259 male felon parolees of the California Department of Corrections in 1987 in the Journal of Criminal Justice (vol. 15, pp. 211-230). By comparison to matched controls, the Transcendental Meditation group had consistently more favorable parole outcomes (as determined from rap sheets) from one to five years after parole. With twenty-eight social and criminal history variables controlled by stepwise multiple regression, Transcendental Meditation significantly reduced recidivism, whereas prison education, vocational training, and psychotherapy did not consistently reduce recidivism. Rates of reduction in recidivism varied from 35 to 40%.
These results are clearly significant for those devoted to finding a "cure" for the violent behavior that plagues our society today. Prisons are like pressure cookers for violence. Indeed, one of the oldest methods for producing stress in laboratory animals is to isolate them in a small cage. Prisons exacerbate the very stress and weakness that led the individual to offend in the first place. The increased stress builds up in the very physiology of the inmate and breaks out in the form of violent and antisocial behavior.
Introduction to Maharishi's Integrated System of Rehabilitation
Benefits of the Transcendental Meditation program for Correctional Officers (Part 1)
Benefits of the Transcendental Meditation program for Correctional Officers (Part 2)
Benefits of the Transcendental Meditation program for Inmates(Part 1)
Benefits of the Transcendental Meditation program for Inmates (Part 2)
Experiences and Reports of Correctional Officers and Inmates (Part 1)
Experiences and Reports of Correctional Officers and Inmates (Part 2)
Benefits to the Department of Corrections
Savings for Taxpayers and Victims of Crime
Summary of Benefits of Transcendental Meditation program in Corrections
Maharishi University of Management
Department of Rehabilitation,
1700 University Court, Fairfield, IA 52556 U.S.A.