MINDFUL JUSTICE INITIATIVE

The Mindful Justice Initiative arose from a collaboration training sponsored by the Frederick P. Lenz Foundation for American Buddhism.  The Lenz Foundation has provided ongoing funding for this Mindful Justice Initiative collaboration between Prison Mindfulness Institute (PMI) and the Center for Mindfulness, Law & Justice (CMLJ).

The September 2015 Mindful Justice Conference held at the Fetzer Institute Seasons Conference Center in Kalamazoo, Michigan was co-sponsored by PMI, CMLJ, Fetzer Institute and the Frederick P. Lenz Foundation and was funded by the Fetzer Institute and the Lenz Foundation. This conference brought together the pioneers of mindfulness-based programming in the criminal justice system, as well as teachers, researchers, and policy-makers with an interest in this work, to explore how we can establish a shared vision for system-wide transformation drawing on the principles and practices of mindfulness.

This might have seemed utopian 10 years ago. Times have changed, however. Meditation, mindfulness, and other contemplative practices are more widely understood and frequently discussed in popular media. A body of scientific data has been published which validates and explains the processes by which contemplative practices alter brain function and structures. This is a moment of unusual openness to ideas for reforming the criminal justice system. Calls for reform come from every point on the political spectrum. No one, however, has yet articulated a philosophy for transforming the system, grounded in contemplative principles: compassion, community building, and respect for the dignity of all participants. We propose to do that and to put it forward into the public debate.

We believe that that integrating mindfulness principles and practices at all levels of the system–from police encounters on the street to our courts, prisons, and reentry process–could create a dramatically different criminal justice system, one that leads to less suffering, and lower, human and financial cost. Our goal with the September 2015 conference was to explore and refine this vision together, and discuss how we can put it forward into the mainstream criminal reform discussion, with the hope that over time it leads to deep and meaningful change that benefits all those impacted by our criminal justice system.

Guiding Principles

#1: Change

Facilitating inner change among the individuals involded in the Criminal Justice system. Such change involves deepening compassion, reducing reactivity, and  increasing a sense of interconnection with others. 

#2:Goodness

All people have inherent goodness that can be cultivated and nurtured. Acknowledging this and capacity for rehabilitation entails an obligation to provide the means to cultivate the potential of all. 

#3: Compassion

Criminal justice systems guided by principles of respect for human dignity and compassion for others, and these principles should be reflected in institutional practices and policies.

#4:Mindfulness

Training and supervision of criminal justice workers should involve practices—meditation or otherwise—that support mindful practice, behavior, and values.

#5:Partnership

The transformation of the criminal justice system should be guided by community engagement and input, and enacted in partnership with community organizations.

#6: Repair Harm

The integration of mindfulness into the criminal justice system must be done in a way that repairs the disproportionate harm the system has had on poor communities and communities of color.

Mindful Justice Conference

Creating a Criminal Justice System Grounded in Mindfulness, Compassion & Human Dignity 
National collaboration of teachers and organizations bringing transformative, mindfulness-based programs to criminal justice settings in order to create a more fair and humane criminal justice system.

A conference co-sponsored by the Fetzer Institute,
The Center for the Study of Law and Society at UC Berkeley, and the Prison Mindfulness Institute.

September 17-20, 2015

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Conference Papers

Conference Agenda

Conference Summary Report

Mindful Justice Initiative Sept. 2016 Report Read our latest update and progress report on the Mindful Justice Initiative.
MJI report Sept 2016

Courts

Mindfulness Training in the Santa Clara County Justice System

By Robin Fisher and Dan Carlin.
Documents a series of three mindfulness workshops offered to judges, prosecutors, and public defenders in Santa Clara County, California.

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Problem Solving Courts and Mindfulness

By Emmaline Campbell.
Examines drug and mental health courts: their background, benefits, weaknesses, and compatibility with mindfulness practices and principles.
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Observations from Essential Mindfulness for Lawyers® Trainings

 For District Attorneys and Public Defenders

By Judi Cohen.
Contains observations from three Essential Mindfulness for Lawyers® trainings Warrior One LLC delivered to the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, fall 2014 and spring 2015, and currently being delivered to the Law Office of the Public Defender for the State of New Mexico. Discusses training formats, content, attendance, assessments and author’s thoughts and observations about the effectiveness of the training and the future of mindfulness in the U.S. criminal justice system.
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Juvenile & Adult Corrections

The Prison Meditation Movement & The Current State of Mindfulness-Based Programming for Prisoners

By Fleet Maull.
Summary report on mindfulness prison programs including history; current developments and trends; theory and applications; supporting research; exemplary training programs; institutional support and buy-in; scaling up strategies; and, funding models.
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Mindfulness-Based Programs for Adolescents
By Leslie Booker.
Examines the range of programs currently offered to young people, and the special considerations involved in teaching mindfulness to at-risk youth and adolescents in the criminal justice system. Documents experience teaching at Riker’s Island and other facilities.
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Law Enforcement & First Responders

Mindful Community Engagement:
A Case Study of a Mindfulness, Race and Law Enforcement Collaboration in an Urban Community

By Rhonda Magee

This paper describes two mindfulness-based Workshops involving members of the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office; the University of San Francisco School of Law; and interested members of the broader San Francisco community addressing concerns of racism in policing and prosecution.

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Mindfulness: The Foundation of 21st Century Police Reform

By Richard Goerling.
Documents the creation of the first multi-week mindfulness-based training program for police officers, its impact on officers in the Hillsboro, Oregon police department, and future prospects for mindfulness in policing.
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Report on a Five-Day Mindfulness Symposium in Louisville Kentucky

By Fleet Maull and Mark Allen. Report on a Half-Day Mindful Leadership Training for Thirty Louisville, Kentucky City Leaders including the Mayor, the Director of Corrections, and the Chief of Police and a Two Day Mindfulness-Based Wellness and Resiliency Training for Sixty Corrections, Law Enforcement and Emergency Medical Services Staff. The results of the Post-Workshop Questionnaire for the two-day event for corrections officers are included.
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Community Corrections & Re-Entry

Mindfulness Training for Community Corrections Staff & Probation & Parole Officers

By Brad Bogue & Fleet Maull.
Examines the value of mindfulness training for community corrections professionals, and documents a workshop offered to a group of community corrections staff in Adams County, Colorado in July 2015.

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