Our Path of Freedom curriculum for prisoners was adapted from the Integral Peacemaker TrainingTM, a leadership training program developed by Kate Crisp & Fleet Maull for the Peacemaker Institute. Crisp and Maull continued to refine the Path of Freedom curriculum during a five-year pilot program at the Lookout Mountain Youth Services Center (a maximum security prison for juvenile males) in Golden, Colorado, and through its implementation in whole or in part by Path of Freedom facilitators in various adult correctional facilities across the U.S. We have now trained over 300 facilitators worldwide in the Path of Freedom curriculum.
In its current form the Path of Freedom curriculum is a mindfulness-based emotional intelligence (MBEI) training which also employs key elements of social-emotional learning and mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral training. The program focuses on increasing participants’ resources, capacities and skills for self-awareness by developing mindfulness, presence, focus and attention stabilization in daily living. The program offers tools for developing personal resources, capacities and skills for self-empathy, emotion regulation, resilience, deep listening, empathic communication, problem-solving and conflict management, as well as forgiveness (letting go) and reconciliation in the sphere of personal and work relationships.
The Path of Freedom curriculum also focuses on increasing participants’ resiliency, confidence and positive life outlook through direct contact with the unconditional ground of basic goodness or basic okay-ness/wellness at the core of their own being through mindfulness-awareness meditation and contemplative/reflective practices. This direct contemplative experience encourages a shift away from fear-based and often anti-social or criminal strategies for meeting needs to pro-social strategies grounded in an emerging confidence in their own basic or innate goodness, the innate goodness of others and life altogether and a greater overall sense of possibility and positive vision for their present lives and future. The program is also grounded in a holistic or whole-person, bio-psycho-social-spiritual, integral view of human development.
Prison Mindfulness Institute Research Projects
Path of Freedom
In 2011 we launched our first research initiative to assess the impact of our Path of Freedom curriculum, integrating mindfulness practice with cognitive-behavioral training and social emotional learning. A group of fifty men will be part of this five-year study in Rhode Island. We are also planning a long term study of the effects of mindfulness on women in prison as well. Preliminary results are sketched out in this document: CFMConference Presentation.
Mindfulness-Based Wellness & Resiliency (MBWR)
Research Summary for the 2015 Mindfulness Training for Community Corrections Staff. Mindfulness and Community Corrections Workshop Evaluation 2015
Summary Analysis of the 2013/2014 Wellness & Resiliency Pilot Program (WRP):
Contrasting Pre-Post Survey Measures Between WRP and a Comparison Group. Oregon DOC MBWR Study
Research Summary and Analysis for the 2012/2013 Motivational Interviewing & Mindfulness Based Emotional Intelligence Staff Pilot Training. Research Report.RI DOC MI & MBEI (Mindfulness) 2012.2013 Pilot Program
Meditation & Mindfulness in Prisons
- Mindfulness training improves attentional task performance in incarcerated youth: a group randomized controlled intervention trial Leonard NR, Jha AP, Casarjian B, Goolsarran M, Garcia C, Cleland CM, Gwadz MV and Massey Z Frontiers in Psychology (2013)
- Exploring an intensive meditation intervention for incarcerated youth. Elizabeth S. Barnert, Samuel Himelstein, Sarah Herbert, Albert Garcia-Romeu, Lisa J. Chamberlain, Child and Adolescent Mental Health (2013)
- A qualitative investigation of the experience of a mindfulness-based intervention with incarcerated adolescents. Samuel Himelstein, Arthur Hastings, Shauna Shapiro, Myrtle Heery, Child and Adolescent Mental Health (2012)
- Can adult offenders with intellectual disabilities use mindfulness-based procedures to control their deviant sexual arousal? Nirbhay N. Singha, Giulio E. Lancionib, Alan S.W. Wintonc, Ashvind N. Singhd, Angela D. Adkinse, Judy Singha, Psychology, Crime & Law (2011)
- Mindfulness-Based Substance Abuse Treatment for Incarcerated Youth: A Mixed Method Pilot Study. Samuel Himelstein, International Journal of Transpersonal Studies (2011)
- Meditation research: The state of the art in correctional settings. Samuel Himelstein, International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology (2010).
- The Use of Meditation in Corrections. David W. Orme-Johnson, International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology (2010)
- Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction in Massachusetts Correctional Facilities, Marlene Samuelson, James Carmody, Jon Kabat-Zinn and Michael A. Bratt, The Prison Journal (2007)
- Mindfulness meditation and substance use in an incarcerated population. Bowen S, Witkiewitz K, Dillworth TM, Chawla N, Simpson TL, Ostafin BD, Larimer ME, Blume AW, Parks GA, Marlatt GA, Psychology of Addictive Behaviors (2006)
- Programmes in Correctional settings: Innovative State and Local programmes – See page 65 for details of a mindfulness program run for over 100 inmates.
- MBCT applications in correctional settings. Neva Hagedorn
- Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation in a Corrections Setting, James M. Dunn Upaya Chaplaincy Program, 2010
Our Research & Program Evaluation Committee:
- Brad Bogue, MA, is the primary research consultant for the project. Brad is the founder of Justice Systems Assessment & Training (J-SAT), one of the leading program evaluation, research and implementation consultancy firms in the corrections field. Brad Bogue and J-Sat have held the NIC management contract for the Norval Morris Project for the past five years.
- Willoughby Britton, PhD, is a faculty member and researcher at Brown University, who will also serve as a research consultant to the project. Dr. Britton is an emerging leader in the field research on mindfulness-based interventions and their impact on the human brain, and human development and behavior, and is in regular contact with the leading researchers in this field.
- Jennifer Clark, M.D. is associate professor of medicine and OB/GYN at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and the Director of Health Disparities Research at the Center for Primary Care and Prevention at Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island. Dr. Clarke is an active researcher and author who has conducted a numerous studies including, “Prisons: Learning About Womens’ Health and Substance Abuse.” Dr. Clarke is also a staff physician at the Rhode Island Department of Corrections, where she has conducted four federally-funded research programs, including pre-release program impact studies on birth control, HIV risk behaviors, unplanned pregnancies, and tobacco use cessation.
- Kate Crisp, PMI Executive Director, trainer and mindfulness instructor, will lend her considerable experience in program development and curriculum design as well as her considerable knowledge in the fields of criminology and corrections.
- Sam Himelstein, PhD, Executive Director of the Mind Body Awareness Project. Sam completed the first published research for the MBA Project as his dissertation, entitled, “A Mixed Methods Study of a Mindfulness-Based Intervention with Incarcerated Youth.”
- Dr. Jennifer Johnson, PhD., Dr. Johnson earned a B.S. in physics in 1995 and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in 2004 from Brigham Young University (BYU), attending the Palo Alto VA for her predoctoral internship. Jennifer came to Brown as a postdoctoral fellow in treatment research. She completed a NIDA K23 award at Brown, conducting a randomized clinical trial of group interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT)for women prisoners with co-occurring substance use and depressive disorders. She continues to conduct NIH-funded clinical trials of behavioral interventions for high-risk women.
- Mitchell Levy, M.D., Dr. Levy is professor of medicine at Brown University, medical director of the medical intensive care unit and director of critical care services at Rhode Island Hospital. Dr. Levy is an active researcher who has authored numerous peer-reviewed articles and book chapters and presents at medical conferences worldwide as a leading expert in the field of critical care medicine.
- Fleet Maull, MA, PhD candidate, will also participate with the research group, lending his extensive firsthand experience of correctional practice to the research group’s planning and implementation process. Fleet also maintains very active contact with the leading researchers in the field of mindfulnessbased interventions.
- David Vago, PhD, is an associate psychologist in the Functional Neuroimaging Laboratory, Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He has completed a post-doctoral fellowship in the department of Psychiatry at BWH, the Utah Center for Mind-Body Interactions within the University of Utah Medical School, and the Stuart T. Hauser Research Training Program in Biological & Social Psychiatry. David has previously held the position of Senior Research Coordinator for the Mind & Life Institute and is currently a Mind and Life Fellow supporting the Mind and Life mission by advising on strategy and programs. He received his Bachelors Degree in Brain and Cognitive Sciences in 1997 from the University of Rochester. In 2005, David received his Ph.D. in Cognitive and Neural Sciences with a specialization in learning and memory from the department of Psychology, University of Utah.
Ashley Taylor Doolittle, PhD: Dr. Doolittle earned her PhD in 2010 from Duke University in Sociology with a specialization in crime and incarceration. Upon graduating, she pursued a path of applied sociology and is currently the Director of Evaluation and Learning at More Than Words in Boston, a social enterprise that empowers and trains young adults who are court-involved, previously incarcerated, homeless, or or out-of-school. In addition to being an active mindfulness and Vipassana meditation practitioner, Dr. Doolittle has taught and presented on the topics of incarceration and education in the U.S. and abroad. Currently, Dr. Doolittle is teaching PMI’s Path of Freedom curriculum within the MA DOC.