Sitting Inside: Bringing Mindfulness Meditation to Prisoners

Heidi Haenisch & Wesley Bullock | September 23 | 4:00 - 5:00 PM | Room 2591

The United States has more people incarcerated than any other nation, with the fact of mass incarceration and its sequelae exponentially worse in communities of color. The challenges and barriers to successful community reentry are formidable for individuals returning back to the community from prison following incarceration, with higher rates of serious mental illness and substance use disorders among the criminal justice population contributing to higher rates of recidivism. The proposed presentation will present an overview and the outcomes from the UT Mindfulness Meditation program, a collaborative service-learning project between the University of Toledo, Department of Psychology and the Volunteers of America (VOA) Community Reentry Program located in Toledo. Participants in the program are individuals serving the last 3-6 months of their prison sentence at the VOA half-way facility. Participants complete an 8-week Mindfulness Meditation program facilitated by University faculty and graduate students, as well as community members.


The curriculum is framed within the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program by Kabat-Zinn (2003) and provides participants with psychoeducation about mindfulness meditation and self-regulation skills, along with an opportunity to practice a variety of mindfulness-based exercises, including mindful breathing, body scan, mindful movement, and mindful art activities. Pre and post outcome data are being collected to evaluate the effectiveness of the program in promoting better emotional regulation, mindfulness, and mental health functioning. Quantitative and qualitative results will be presented from two groups that have been completed to date, one with women and one with men, along with challenges and successes of the project.

About the Presenters