Norman Rosenthal on Decrease Recidivism Rate in Prisons

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Norman Rosenthal, M.D. (Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Georgetown University Medical School):

Currently more than 2 million people are in our prison system in the United States. That's more than in any other country in the world, far too many people. And when they're released, within 3 years, about two thirds of them are recidivists, they are re-admitted to prison.

So clearly, we're spending a great deal of money on the prison system and we're not doing a great job. We need better ways to rehabilitate these people so that they can become contributing members of society.

There is evidence that Transcendental Meditation can dramatically decrease recidivism rates from studies done in the nineties. But there are new, ongoing studies in Oregon State Penitentiary System. The early results are very promising, based on what the prisoners are actually saying. We're awaiting the results of the controlled study.

Our Approach: Freedom Behind Bars

The origins of criminal behavior, while difficult to pinpoint precisely, can often be traced back to the long-term impact of traumatic stress. Unless a rehabilitation program for the men and women behind bars effectively targets this disorder, too often the rehabilitation will prove ineffective, and incarceration and recidivism rates will continue to climb—resulting in considerable pain and suffering for the victims of crime, significant expense to taxpayers, and substantial waste of human potential to those incarcerated.
For 35 years, Transcendental Meditation has been taught with significant benefit to inmates and guards in some of America’s toughest prisons, including San Quentin, Folsom, and Walpole. This program has been warmly received by the prison population because it is easy to learn and requires no belief or change in lifestyle. And the results are immediate: deep relaxation and relief from stress, anxiety, and depression. This has been found to result in fewer rule infractions as well as reduced recidivism rates.

The David Lynch Foundation employs specially qualified teachers of Transcendental Meditation who are prepared to work in the prisons, to help with the genuine rehabilitation of offenders by lifting the oppressive stress within the prison community that undermines existing rehabilitation programs.

If you would like to support the David Lynch Foundation’s programs for prisons and rehabilitation centers, please contact Chris Busch at
If you would like more information about implementing a program, please contact Lynn Kaplan at

Some research

Decreased Recidivism:
Effects of the Transcendental Meditation program on recidivism among former inmates of Folsom prison: Survival analysis of 15-year follow-up data. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 1987: 36, 181-203.

Decreased Recidivism:
Long-Term Follow-Up
Walpole study of the Transcendental Meditation program in maximum security prisoners I: Cross-sectional differences in development and psychopathology. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 2003: 36: 97-126.

Improved Psychological Health of Inmates :
The application of the Transcendental Meditation program to corrections. International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice, 1987: 1, 111-132.

Decreased Substance Usage
Treating and preventing alcohol, nicotine, and drug abuse through Transcendental Meditation: A review and statistical meta-analysis. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, 1994:
11: 13-87.

Improved Criminal Behavior and Decreased Substance Abuse:
Review of Literature
Effectiveness of the Transcendental Meditation program in criminal rehabilitation and substance abuse recovery: A review of research. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 2003: 36, 47-65.

Norman Rosenthal, M.D. « FOUNDATION FOR EFFECTIVE REHABILITATION », 8 déc. 2010, < >, Other link : < youtube >