Alabama Prison And Meditation

Despite a history of violence at the William E. Donaldson Correctional Facility, which is named for a slain corrections officer, the prison outside Birmingham has become the model for a meditation program that officials say helps inmates learn the self control and social skills they never got in the outside world.

Convicted murderer Grady Bankhead said the hours of meditation forced him to accept responsibility for his crime and helped him find inner peace. Bankhead, who’s serving life without parole, radiates calm.

“I’ve been here for 25 years and this statement is going to sound crazy, but I consider myself the luckiest man in the world,” Bankhead, 60, said last month after the latest course at Donaldson.

For Ronald McKeithen, Vipassana became a tool for controlling his actions.

John Gannon, executive director of the International Association for Correctional and Forensic Psychology, said he applauds Alabama’s efforts.

“Anything that helps to reduce impulsivity is likely to reduce recidivism … and that’s what the process is about as I understand it,” said Gannon, of Pismo Beach, Calif.

Phillips wrote a book and produced a documentary movie about the Donaldson program called “The Dhamma Brothers”

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The documentary about the program to teach prisoners Theravada Buddhist meditation called The Dhamma Brothers

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2 Responses to Alabama Prison And Meditation

  1. sokep says:

    The film/video on this and the Goenka retreats in Indian prison are both inspiring.
    It seems I can comment, just by subscribing; unless steve has entered me as an author 7:08am thur.
    vid is on ?YouTube in many parts. by Madison

    • Steve says:

      Anyone with a account, who is logged into it may comment.

      There are 3 documentaries about prisoners being taught mediation from the Goenka sysem:

      – “Doing Time, Doing Vipassana”
      – “The Dhamma Brothers”
      – “Changing From Inside”

      The last one is about a minimum security prison focusing on female prisoners

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