The Catholic Church should be more involved in this, through the ancient methods used by Church contemplatives, as meditation works, as this article from Governing Magazine reports.
Back in the 1970s, thousands of inmates in such forbidding maximum security prisons as California’s San Quentin and Folsom were introduced to meditation. The positive psychological impact on those prisoners was documented in a number of studies. But enthusiasm for prison meditation programs eventually died down as private funding faltered and a more punitive approach to prison management took hold.
Now there’s a resurgence of interest in meditation programs for both adult and juvenile offenders. It can be chalked up, in part, to the rebirth of New Age thinking. In mainstream culture, all the meditative disciplines, from “mindfulness” to Transcendental Meditation, or TM, to the ancient Buddhist technique of Vipassana, are being inundated with new disciples. But a larger part of the push to reintroduce meditation to the incarcerated can be traced to results.
A recent study at two prisons in Oregon spells it out. The study, financed by the David Lynch Foundation, which promotes TM, and with the cooperation of the Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC), looked at 180 inmates at two prisons in Salem — one a maximum security facility and the other minimum security. The inmates, who volunteered to participate, were randomly divided into two groups and given a battery of psychological tests. One group learned TM, meditating twice a day for 20 minutes. The other group was given standard mental health care. The inmates were tested again four months later. The results were significant: Among the meditating inmates, there was a marked reduction in psychological distress, anxiety, depression, and anger and hostility. The tests also revealed improved vigor and an increase in inmates’ sense of spiritual well-being. For the inmates who had received standard care, there was little change. “If we could create an environment of healing,” says Tom O’Connor, director of research for ODOC and a co-author of the study, “the public could save a great deal of money and we could create a better society, a more humane prison and a much more effective prison.”
Retrieved November 10, 2015 from http://www.governing.com/topics/public-justice-safety/gov-meditation-prisoners-mental-health.html