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Monday, 5 August, 2002, 12:14 GMT 13:14 UK
Thai prisoners reform through meditation
Inmates take part in the meditation course at Klong Pai prison, Thailand (Courtesy of the Bangkok Post)
The course proved extremely popular
Thai authorities plan to expand a meditation course for prison inmates after participants in a trial programme responded so positively.


We found that it changed the behaviour of the prisoners, it made them aware of right and wrong

Surang Ekkachote, Office of Correctional Inspectors
The inmates at Klong Pai Prison, 210 kilometres (130 miles) northeast of Bangkok, practised Vipassana meditation - an ancient Indian technique - ate vegetarian meals, and listened to tapes of chanting by an Indian guru.

"We found that it changed the behaviour of the prisoners, it made them aware of right and wrong," Surang Ekkachote of Thailand's Office of Correctional Inspectors told the French news agency AFP.

She added that the 10-day course was so successful that most participants continued to meditate after it had finished.

Ms Surang said drug offenders had initially taken part in the course, but it would be extended to all kinds of prisoners in the future.

Calming effect

Chadaporn Raksasap, director of the women's section at Klong Pai prison, said meditation helped inmates to deal with stress.

A tearful 37-year-old drug offender reportedly told the Bangkok Post: "I realise that I have never done anything good in my life, I abused my parents. I gambled. I sold everything in the house and I sold drugs".

She said meditation also helped to assuage her anger when she found out that her husband was being unfaithful to her while she was in jail.

"I thought of getting back at him. But after practising meditation, I can calm down and can be more forgiving."

Correspondents say riots in Thailand's overcrowded prisons are common.

Officials say adult jails are filled to three times capacity, largely due to an increase in drug-related crimes in recent years.

See also:

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