Can Mindfulness Make Prison a Healthier Place?

  • Fleet MaullEmail author
  • Kate Crisp


Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) of various sorts—faith-based, secular, and clinical—have found increasing popularity in prison settings over the past four decades. The past two decades have seen exponential growth in the clinical application of MBIs for the treatment of various psychological disorders altogether and increasing application for offender treatment. Mindfulness training has been broadly defined as cultivating present moment awareness of sensory experience along with attitudinal qualities like openness, curiosity, nonjudgment, equanimity, empathy, and compassion. Researchers have validated the efficacy of MBIs like MBSR, DBT, ACT, MBCT, and MBRP in reducing distressing symptomatology associated with both physical illness and psychological disorders. Research has also demonstrated various salutary impacts of mindfulness training, including improvements in cognitive and emotional balance, impulse control, immune response, and overall health and well-being. Neuroscientific investigations employing various types of brain imaging demonstrate mindfulness training’s potential to positively alter the brain’s neural structures and promote healthy brain function. In particular, clinically applied MBIs show great promise for treating disorders common to prison populations like addiction, depression, dual diagnosis, and aggressive personality disorder. This chapter will review the research on the clinical applications of mindfulness and explore both existing and potential applications of MBIs in correctional settings across three categories of prevalent offender issues and needs, including (1) aggression, violence, and antisocial personality disorder (ASPD), (2) substance abuse and addiction, and (3) depression, mental illness, and dual diagnosis. The emerging application of MBIs designed to improved wellness and resilience in corrections professionals will also be discussed.


Correctional staff Incarceration Mindfulness Resilience 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Prison Mindfulness Institute & Center for Mindfulness in Public SafetyDeerfieldUSA

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