Friday, February 11, 2011


Here is a wonderful NPR story on a 10-day vipassanā (insight/mindfulness) meditation program for inmates run in the William E Donaldson Correctional Facility outside Birmingham, Alabamba.

One result of the program has been a dramatic reduction in problems in the prison, which has been one of the most problematic in the state of Alabamba. The warden has recommended that prison staff take the 10-day course to dispel misconceptions about meditation.

"Vipassanā means seeing things as they are,” says inmate Johnny Mack Young (pictured below), who is a convicted murderer. You'll start feeling little stuff moving all around on your body. Some guys can't handle this; some guys scream."

To date some 430 inmates have gone through the Donaldson vipassan
ā meditation program, which is the only one of its kind in North America. There's a waiting list for the quarterly sessions, and the State wants to expand the offering to its women's prison.

Filmmaker Jenny Phillips has made a documentary called The Dhamma Brothers about the Alabama program and its unlikely marriage of an ancient meditation practice and an end-of-the-line prison.

Here is a link to the film's trailer.

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