Prison Meditation

Posted by LaDawn Jones on

Meditation as a practice is slow to expand across the U.S. as criminal justice administrators struggle to understand its components and relation to desistence from criminal behavior. High incarceration rates have created issues concerning Prison Industrial Complex, prison overcrowding, prison violence, high operational costs, high recidivism rates, and budget constraints. These issues and concerns reveal the lack of transformative rehabilitation available for incarcerated populations. Moreover, victims of crime suffer daily with the fear of being re-victimized, and have lost faith in the effectiveness of the criminal justice system. Meditation as a form of rehabilitation and an educational resource, offer a unique cost-effective restorative justice approach to a criminal justice system that traditionally focuses more on incarceration than rehabilitative interventions (Belcher, 2013; Frid, Ronel, & Timor, 2013; Gordon, Griffiths, Shonin, & Slade’s, 2013). Reported benefits of meditation inside and outside of the prison system include but are not limited to, the improvement of physical, mental, social, and emotional disorders (Allen, Cavanaugh, Clements, Miller, Perelman, and Rodriguez, 2012; Drabman, Gross, Hersen, Horner, Lane, Rosqvist, & Sugai, 2005; Eberth, Haarig, Jaeger, Kunze, Schwarz, Sedlmeier, & Zimmerman, 2012; Gordon, et al., 2013). Benefits of meditation courses for prisoners include perceived goodness, positive relationship with staff, and positive social atmosphere (Frid et al., 2013). Researchers have interpreted findings from meditation studies as a component of positive criminology that had a positive impact on prisoners. Below is a growing list of scientific journals and references that examine meditation in the criminal justice system, particularly within prisons. 


Belcher, J. R. (2013). Towards more effective behavioral interventions in the prison setting. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 57(2), 131-132. DOI: 10.1177/0306624X12471931

Barnert, E. S., Chamberlain, L. J., Garcia-Romeu, A., Herbert, S., & Himelstein, S. (2014). Innovations in practice: Exploring an intensive meditation intervention for incarcerated youth. Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 19(1), 69-73. DOI:10.1111/camh.12019

Canton, R., & Hancock, D. (2014). Dictionary of probation and offender management. New York, NY: Routledge.

Carson, A. E. (2015). Prisoner in 2014. Washington, DC: United States Department of Justice. Retrieved from

Cernkovich, S. A., Giodarno, P. C., & Rudolph, J. L. (2002). Gender, crime, and desistance: Toward a theory of cognitive transformation. American Journal of Sociology. DOI: 10.1086/343191

Creswell, J.W. (2007). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks,. CA: Sage.

Creswell, J. W. (2013). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

Dillbeck, M. C., Orne-Johnson, D. W. (2014). Methodological concerns for meta-analysis of meditation: Comment on Sedlmeier et al. (2012). American Psychological Association. DOI: 10.1037/a0035074

Drabman, R. S., Gross, A. M., Hersen, M., Horner, R., Lane, J. B., Rosqvist, J., & Sugai, G. (2005).  Encyclopedia of behavior modification and cognitive behavior therapy: Volume 1: Adult Clinical Applications Volume 2: Childs clinical applications Volume 3: Educational applications: Mindfulness meditation. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. DOI:

Drakeford, L. (2015). The race controversy in american education. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.

Eberth, J., Haarig, F., Jaeger S., Kunze, S., Schwarz, M., Sedlmeierm, P., & Zimmerman, D. (2012). The psychological effects of meditation: A meta-analysis. American Psychological Association. DOI: 10.1037/a0028168

Frid, N., Ronel, N., & Timor, U. (2013). The practice of positive criminology: A Vipassana course in prison. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 57(2), 133-153. DOI: 10.1177/0306624X11427664

Fulcher, P. A. (2012). Hustle and flow: Prison privatization fueling the prison industrial complex. Washburn Law Journal, 41(3). Retrieved from

Gordon, W. V., Griffiths, M. D., Shonin, L., & Slade, K. (2013). Mindfulness and other Buddhist derived interventions in correctional settings: A systematic review. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 18, 365-372. DOI:

Maruna, S. (2001). Making good: How ex-convicts reform and rebuild their lives. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Patton, M. Q. (2015). Qualitative research & evaluation methods (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

The American Jail Association. 10 Facts about women in prison. Hagerstown, MD: The American Jail Association. Retrieved from

Share this post