Vipassana Meditation Courses In Prisons

Prison Courses in the United States
Vipassana courses have been held in three U.S. correctional facilities: the W.E. Donaldson Correctional Facility, a level 6 maximum-security state prison in Bessemer, Alabama, near Birmingham; the San Francisco Jail; and the North Rehabilitation Facility (N.R.F.), which was minimum-security facility of the King County jail system in Seattle, Washington. Lucia Meijer, the administrator of N.R.F., has played a key role in introducing the courses into North America prisons. After Ms. Meijer attended one of the 10 day courses herself at the Northwest Vipassana Center, she and her staff overcame the many administrative, security, and facilities hurdles to arrange the first course for men in November 1997. Since that time additional courses for both men and women have been conducted at N.R.F. with very positive results. These courses were described in articles by the Associated Press (AP) and by articles published by numerous major American newspapers, covered in an 8 minute Real Media radio interview and Windows Media radio interview on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and described in a program presented on National Public Radio (NPR). In addition, Ms. Meijer is the author of an article entitled "Vipassana Meditation at the North Rehabilitation Facility" in the July/August 1999 issue of American Jails Magazine

One of these courses, conducted for women inmates at N.R.F., is also the subject of a recent documentary film entitled "Changing From Inside" which is directed primarily to the questions and concerns of administration and security staffs within correction facilities. Videotape copies of this film are available to educational and correctional institutions through Pariyatti (a non-profit resource). Copies are available in Europe from Book, Video & Tape Service and in Australia from Dhamma Books and in New Zealand from Vipassana Publications Aotearoa.

A few question and answers about the prison courses in the U.S. are available along with a short summary of the history of Vipassana courses in American prisons.

Additional information on the prison course programs in the United States and Canada are available on the The North American Prison Trust Website

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