A fascinating new education project is underway in the United Kingdom’s infamous high-security Wakefield Prison. Known for housing those considered to be amongst England’s most violent offenders, the facility has recently started offering meditation classes to its inmates.
“Mindfulness meditation” comes from the Buddhist tradition, and is being touted as a method for treating low-level anxiety and depression in prisoners. Prisoners are offered group meditation classes, with segregated inmates afforded one-on-one instruction. It represents an important recognition of the importance of mental health treatment when dealing with violent prisoners—especially important in a facility that has been plagued by violence.
Pilot programs have already been implemented at lower-security prisons across the country, coinciding with calls to implement meditation instruction as part of the National Health Service coverage for the treatment of depression and anxiety. Assessments of their benefits will be undertaken in the coming months and years. The timing of these programs also coincides with the announcement of major prison reforms for the country, with emphasis to be placed on prison education initiatives.