Meditation Mitigation Incarceration

May 3, 2010 | By | 1 Reply More

February 1, 2010 issue of Missouri Lawyers Weekly (available only to subscribers online) reports on a new “Enlightened Sentencing Program” sponsored by a nonprofit meditation organization. The MLW article advises that several St. Louis area judges have been impressed with the program. For example, Judge David Mason

Ordered more than 200 people through the program. Of those offenders, he said that he has had to revoke probation only four times, a 2% rate. Mason’s definition of recidivism is if the probationer commits a new crime in the first three years. Missouri Department of Corrections statistics show a statewide average of 28% of prisoners are locked up again within three years after either violating parole or committing another crime.

Presumably, Judge Mason’s statistics are not compiled in a double-blind way–he might be unconsciously skewing the sample by choosing a select sub-group of convicts for the program. On the other hand, this stark difference in statistics does sound promising; it seems like this is the kind of approach that might make more sense than throwing people in expensive prisons where they are subjected to constant humiliation and violence. I think I know what would make me less likely to cope on the outside, and it’s not having someone slam my head against the metal bars of a prison cell.

Judge Mason suggests that Missouri should invest in a pilot meditation program, and then it could see the results among probationers and potential tax savings. “People tend to be afraid to go out in front on the issue,” the judge said. “It’s a whole lot cheaper than a lot of stuff we waste money on.”


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Category: Drug laws, law and order

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Tim Hogan says:

    Judge Mason has been doing this for years, there have been several past articles about his successful use of meditation as a condition of probation.

    I took a page from Judge Mason's book for a client of mine facing time for a drug violation. We have a drug court here as well as several judges who use newer methods of coping with recidivism. The City Drug Court is a diversionary program whereupon completion, the offense is dismissed, and the offender does not plead guilty.

    Many programs, such as St. Louis County and Jefferson County have the offender plead guilty and then participate. More of these offenders go to jail, from my limited experience.

    I have a groin injury caused by failed anethesia during a supposed hernia operation. As a result I have "chronic neuropathy," which in guy's terms means I feel like somebody's kicked me in the crotch 24/7. I went back to the hospital the day after my release with 10/10 pain, I was crying. The docs gave me demerol; no good. The docs have me morphine; no good. I continued to have the most excrutiating pain ever. I finally called a buddy who was studying to be a Tibetan Buddhist lama(?) and reviewed some meditative practices we had done before at several martial arts seminars. My bud walked me through the practice several times, and eventually, the pain lessened to a dull roar. I still use this technique instead of drugs.

    I related my experience to others and there was some literature out there on pain management through bio-feedback and meditative practices and it turned out my wife had used these for her migraines and reported they miraculously disappeared. My wife credits a Dr. Sloan (e?) at SLU for the miracle. It's kinda cool, she can still raise the temperature of her palm by about 10 degrees just by focusing her mind on the matter.

    I passed my information along to the prosecutor and Judge Patterson who were working the Drug Court in the City. My client had a problem, the Drug Court was usually for first time offenders and the client wasn't. But, I was able to show that at the core of my client's problems was an addiction related to pain management. We reviewed the literature, and the Court approved a program. My client was allowed to deal with his addiction in a compassionate and rehabilitative way. Sometimes our system does work, and success such as these judges have produced (along with the clients!)need to be acknowledged and supported.

    Well done Judge Mason and Judge Patterson! Well done people!

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