Meditation in prisons

Doing Time, Doing Vipassana.

A documentary film about the success of Vipassana courses in Indian prisons. In 1993, Kiran Bedi, a reformist Inspector General of India’s prisons, learned of the success of Vipassana in a jail in Jainpur, Rajasthan. A 10 day course involved officials and inmates alike. In India’s largest prison, Tihar Jail, near New Delhi, another attempt was made. This program was said to have dramatically changed the behavior of inmates and jailers alike. It was actually found that inmates who completed the 10 day course were less violent and had a lower recidivism rate than other inmates. This project was documented in the television documentary, Doing Time, Doing Vipassana. So successful was this program that it was adopted by correctional facilities in the United States and other countries as well.

The film, now 10 years old, is on YouTube cut into six nine-minute sections. Here’s the first.

and here are parts 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.

Fascinating and compelling viewing. I really recommend watching all of them.

As is the way of things I discover these films the same day that I receive in the post a copy of The Fires that Burn. This is about the Canadian Catholic nun and Zen roshi Sister Elaine MacInnes who has been teaching meditation in prisons for thirty years and is a former director of The Prison Phoenix Trust in the UK.

7 Replies to “Meditation in prisons”

  1. I have been following your links on the subject of meditation, and I find them really illuminating. You have gathered some great material on the effects of this practice on both the individual and on society. Thanks for your hard work here.

  2. thank-you for showing me this. I found it very very moving and full of hope.

  3. I’m so glad you enjoyed them. The last section in particular, where the prisoners greet the governor, I found moved me to tears. Amazing stuff. And that commissioner of prisons – what a woman!

  4. Thank you so much for this, Rachel. I watched all of them and was moved to tears but also thrilled by the hopefulness expressed. I wonder if the prison authorities in the UK are aware of this work, have watched the film, and if there’s a chance they might apply its lessons to prisons over here? Surely this is revolutionary material that could change everything.

  5. Great job buddy
    may be you should credit the original poster as well thats me
    but never mind you are doing a great job
    i posted these videos so that people could watch it and you are doing exactly that
    keep it up
    further more i would like to tell each and everyone of you to go ahead and try a 10-day Vipassana meditation camp
    Its a completely scientific technique worth trying
    more info abt this at

  6. i think it was good for the prisons to have meditation once in there staying there..
    i think they will help them realize what they did that’s why there are in jail.

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