Why Offer Mindfulness in Jail?

The following is an excerpt from an article written by Tracy Lease for The Union.

“Your grandpa hires ex-cons to work in his business.” “What’re ex-cons, Dad?” “They’re people who have made a bad mistake and gone to jail. Grandpa thinks they deserve another chance.” Fast-forward 40 years. I volunteer to teach in the Wayne Brown Correctional Facility, the local jail, with my colleague Kate Flore. We typically teach between 12 and 18 men eight-week sessions of mindfulness in a jail with a 250-person capacity. About eight different volunteers guide mindfulness practice throughout the year. Those who started the program hoped to reduce stress and violence in the jail, help inmates develop stress management techniques, and give inmates a way to pause and stop automatic behaviors that get them into trouble. The first time I walked through the double-airlock doors into the cinderblock hallway I felt nauseous — no windows, no daylight. Can one teach in here? As soon as I was with the students who had chosen to come to class, I forgot about being locked in.

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