Jul 14
Guest Speaker: Dr. Ron Cavenaugh, Psy.D.

Director of Treatment, State of Alabama Prison System; 3 Videos of Buddhist Meditation used in prison systems...outstanding!

(Last minute rescheduling of Paul Elder to Dec 8, 2007, due to unforeseen difficulty….) DOING TIME, DOING VIPASSANA (52 minutes)

In the mid-1970s Vipassana was first tried within a prison environment with two 10 day courses being conducted for jail officials and inmates of a prison in Jaipur in the Indian state of Rajasthan. Despite the success of those courses, no further jail courses were conducted in India for almost 20 years. In 1993 a new Inspector General of Indian prisons, Kiran Bedi, was appointed and in the process of trying to reform the harsh Indian penal system, learned of the earlier Vipassana courses. She requested that additional courses be conducted in the largest prison in India, Tihar Jail outside of New Delhi. The results were dramatically sucessful. Based upon the success of these courses, another course was conducted in April 1994 by Goenkaji and a number of his assistant teachers for over one thousand inmates of Tihar prison with wonderful benefit for all of those who participated.

During the following winter of 1994-95, the Israeli filmmakers traveled to both Tihar and to the Baroda Jail in the India state of Gujarat, at which Vipassana courses had also been conducted. There they conducted and filmed extensive interviews with jail officials, including Karen Bedei, and inmates from many different countries who participated in the courses. The result of these efforts was an extremely powerful 52-minute documentary film entitled Doing Time, Doing Vipassana. The film describes the way in which Vipassana has been sucessfully used within the Indian prison system to dramatically change the behaviour and attitude of the inmates and jailers who participated in the courses and, thereby, improve the entire atmosphere of the prisons.

Doing Time, Doing Vipassana has been broadcast in many diverse international markets including the following stations and networks: PBS - USA; NHK - Japan; YLE - Finland; TSI - Switzerland; DR TV - Denmark; Channel 8 - Israel; and TV Poland. The film also recently won the prestigeous Golden Spire Award at the 1998 San Franisco International Film Festival. The Festival\'s management wrote as follows about the jury\'s decision:

\'In giving Doing Time, Doing Vipassana its top honour, the jury for the category stated:

\“The jury was moved by this insightful and poignant exposition on Vipassana. The teaching of this meditation as a transformation device has many implications for people everywhere, providing the cultural, social and political institutions can embrace and support its liberating possibility.\”

This year\'s Golden Gate awards competition was incredibly strong & close, as we had a over 1600 entries from 58 countries in the 35 categories.\'

DTDV most recently won a \“Silver Plaque\” award in the INTERCOM - The International Communications Film & Video Competition, in Chicago.

The film also received an award in 1999 from the American National Council on Crime & Delinquency (\“NCCD\”). NCCD wrote as follows about its decision to present this award:

\'Congratulations! I am pleased to inform you that you are a recipient of the NCCD PASS Awards. The National Council on Crime & Delinquency is honored to recognize your excellence in communicating the complex problems of crime to the American people. We hope this award will serve as a contact reminder that your work can make a difference.

A distinguished panel of experts found your work, \“Doing Time, Doing Vipassana\”, to be worthy of recognition and deserving of special acclaim. This award is presented to members of the media who have made an important contribution toward raising the public\'s awareness and understanding of our criminal and juvenile justice system.

For more information, see www.prison.dhamma.org/tihar.htm


Freedom Behind Bars is a short 11 minute video which is excerpted from the film The Dhamma Brothers and gives some information about the use of meditation in the maximum security W.E. Donaldson Prison, in Bessemer, Alabama.


The film, entitled Changing from Inside is 42 minutes long. It was written and produced primarily for an audience of prison administrators, jail officials, judges, etc. and tells the story of the introduction of Vipassana meditation courses into the North Rehabilitation Facility (N.R.F.) of the King County jail in Seattle, Washington, USA.

The film attempts to answer many of the questions that come from corrections officials after they have seen the earlier film entitled Doing Time, Doing Vipassana, documenting the introduction of this meditation into the prisons of India, or after the idea of meditation as a reform measure has been introduced to them.

In general, Changing from Inside is a compelling account of an intensive pilot meditation program for inmates at the N.F.R. minimum security jail near Seattle, Washington. Under the guidance of both community volunteers and facility staff members, seven women inmates undertake ten days of total silence. They practice the ancient meditation technique of Vipassana for ten hours each day, delving ever deeper into themselves to understand and ultimately master the nature of their behaviors and compulsions. In the end, they are transformed by their inward journey and come away with tools to maintain that transformation.

Changing from Inside also chronicles the personal and professional journey of the articulate, determined facility director, Lucia Meijer, as she rallies her staff to undertake and implement this new and unconventional program. Candid interviews among prison staff reveal a range of reactions, from interest to skepticism. However, the results achieved by the course prove to be an inspiration to everyone involved in the project including the participatants, other inmates and the professional staff, leaving the facility transformed, as well.