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
e-mail to the Webmaster.