No 1 jailer in the world
Prisoner population in the US has been rising steadily since World War II. According to data collected by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 743 Americans out of every 100,000 are now serving their time in jail.
With this, the US is carrying the dubious accolade of the no 1 jailer in the world.
The whole system of incarceration costs the US government a staggering $60.3 billion in budget expenditures each and every year. And the prisons themselves – holding altogether 2.3 million inmates – are not only overcrowded and violent. They lack the power to act as correctional institutions: sooner or later, 60% of released prisoners end up in jail again. A vicious and unbreakable circle?
Here’s a possible solution.
Effective rehabilitation with Transcendental Meditation
In an article published in San Francisco Magazine, journalist Scott Lucas describes how the Transcendental Meditation technique is being used to great effect in a local prison:
””I really want you to hear this,” says Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, grabbing my arm. We’re standing on the sidelines of a prisoner support group in San Francisco’s San Bruno jail. One of the inmates is summarizing his two months in an experimental rehabilitation program that’s being pioneered here: Twice a day for 20 minutes, 20 or so participants sit down, close their eyes, and inwardly recite a mantra. They are practicing transcendental meditation.
“With the meditation, I can tell myself that maybe I was the guy who was not doing right,” the prisoner says. “I can’t think of a solution at the moment when I’m angry. So I need to take some quiet time. I got to get away. I can say, this is what is happening to me, and I will get over it.”
The people in the room—the sheriff, the inmates, their facilitator, even the guards—applaud. After the group concludes with the “Serenity Prayer,” Mirkarimi seeks out the man who spoke. “Sir,” the sheriff says, “I really enjoyed what you had to say.” Soon a group of prisoners has formed around the two of them—not to complain about the food or the guards, but to praise transcendental meditation. “I have anger issues,” one says. “But it’s beautiful. My brothers in here tell me they see the changes in me. It’s like getting high without being high.””
“The Sheriff in Limbo” by Scott Lucas, San Francisco Magazine
Feature image: San Fransisco Magazine