Addressing the Problem at its Source
Clearly, we need an effective rehabilitation program that addresses the problem at its source--the psychology and physiology of the inmate. A number of meta-analyses of meditation and relaxation programs have shown Transcendental Meditation to be uniquely effective in reducing anxiety and drug abuse and in increasing self-esteem, all variables that relate to stress.1 Many of the more than five hundred studies on Transcendental Meditation have shown that these psychological changes are deeply rooted in physiological changes. Transcendental Meditation is a program which produces positive, healthy growth within the individual and gives a positive direction to life after release.
Large-Scale, Nationwide Case Study
Another striking illustration of the power of this program occurred in the West African nation of Senegal. In 1987, frustrated with their total inability to manage the prisons, His Excellency President Abdou Diouf instructed the prison administration to implement Maharishi's Transcendental Meditation program system-wide for all inmates, correctional officers, and prison administrators. More than eleven thousand inmates and nine hundred officers were instructed. Prisons that were violent became peaceful; inmates who were self-centered and impulsive became caring and stable. In one of the prisons the warden stopped the program for five months. During that time there were three murders and five rapes--offenses that once again quickly disappeared with the revival of the program in that prison under a new warden.
The story of the program in Senegal is clearly documented in the book, New Horizons in Criminology and Penitentiary Science: The Maharishi Unified Field Based Integrated System of Rehabilitation in Senegalese Prisons, originally published in French by the Senegalese Prison Administration. In it Colonel Mamadou Diop, then Director of the Penitentiary Administration, describes the acid test of the program--its effect on recidivism. "Indeed, we can say that in Senegal usually about 90% of the inmates released after serving their sentence (or those released in the yearly presidential amnesty) come back to prison within one month.
"However, six months after the amnesty in June 1988, in which 2,390 inmates were released, we could register less than forty recidivists who were meditators. Considering that there is no structure or scheme for the reintegration of inmates into society, nor is there any provision for work or jobs for those released, it appears that the only possible explanation for this remarkable drop in recidivism in our country is to be found in the application of your program."
Suggested Plan of Action
Transcendental Meditation has proven its effectiveness in several pilot programs in U.S. prisons. It has been even more effective in large-scale nationwide projects in other countries. It is incumbent upon government to fund institution-wide projects utilizing the Transcendental Meditation program--just as boot camps have been instituted in many states. Only in this way can we break the vicious cycle of violent crime and repeated incarceration.
Senegalese inmates performing community service. "The inmates seem to be getting out of their lethargy....They all volunteered to set up a nursery of 25,000 plants for the Forest Department on an unpaid basis."--Issa Thioune, Prison Warden, Bignona, Senegal
After instruction in Transcendental Meditation, three groups in the minimum security section of MCI, Walpole, MA showed significant improvement on the Buss-Durkee Hostility Inventory compared with population norms. Each of the subscales showed improvements to levels approaching or excelling population norms. The norms were those of college men.
Ref: Dissertation Abstracts International 43(1982): 539-B.
In this study, 259 male felon parolees of the California Department of Corrections who learned Transcendental Meditation while in prison had fewer new prison terms and more favorable parole outcomes each year over a five-year period after release than carefully matched controls. Also, controlling for twenty-eight social and criminal history variables, the program was shown to significantly reduce recidivism during a period of six months to five years after parole, whereas prison education, vocational training, and psychotherapy did not consistently reduce recidivism.
Ref: Journal of Criminal Justice 15 (1987): 211-230.
1) K. Eppley et al., Journal of Clinical Psychology 45 (1989): 957-974
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 International University
Department of Rehabilitation,
1700 University Court, Fairfield, IA 52556 U.S.A.