A lot has been said about the power of meditation and its recuperative powers in medicine and penology. Where as the National Institute of Health has picked up the ball and commissioned some series research on it to test its validation, precious little has been done to look at its effect inside our prison system.
One of the more recent studies commissioned by the NIH was the use of meditation as preventive measure for heart attacks. The most telling quote of the study by the newspapers was “The effect is as large or larger than major categories of drug treatment for cardiovascular disease.” This was paralleled by the statement “If Transcendental Meditation were a drug conferring so many benefits, it would be a billion-dollar blockbuster.” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/8600889/Meditation-can-cut-heart-attacks-by-as-much-as-half.html
Having said that precious little formal research has been done inside the prison system, there are a couple of good pieces that have been publish. One is by Alexander, Charles N. et al. (2003). Transcendental Meditation in Criminal Rehabilitation and Crime Prevention. (Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, Vol. 36, Numbers 1/2/3/4. New York. The Haworth Press, Inc. The other is on Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and can be found The Prison Journal Volume 87 Number 2 June 2007 254-268 © 2007 Sage Publications 10.1177/0032885507303753 http://tpj.sagepub.com hosted at http://online.sagepub.com
The MBSR study was based on the belief that some of the psychological factors that lead to criminal behavior may be changed through the practice of mindfulness (Kabat-Zinn, 1993), the UMass Stress Reduction Clinic and the Massachusetts Council on Criminal Justice agreed to conduct a program of MBSR in prisons in the Massachusetts Department of Corrections system. The MBSR program was one of several options offered in a rehabilitation program for inmates incarcerated as a result of drug-related convictions.
Parallel to the study done in MA prisons was a like study done in the inter city therapeutic communities and reported in the same article as above. The MBSR program has also been used in stressful inner-city community settings (Roth & Creaser, 1997; Roth & Stanley, 2002) and in a therapeutic community for substance abuse treatment (Marcus et al., 2003) and can be found at Downloaded from http://tpj.sagepub.com by guest on October 14, 2009 256 which makes it an ideal program for formal reentry programs which are almost all located in the inner cities or industrial parks.
A thought to bear in mind is that the 11 step of all 12 step programs speaks recovery coming from prayer and mediation.