HomeNewsBriefHow Meditation Reduced Violence in a Mexico Prison
BRIEF

How Meditation Reduced Violence in a Mexico Prison

MEXICO / 16 NOV 2016 BY MIMI YAGOUB EN

A meditation technique has been praised for pacifying what was once among Mexico's most violent prisons, demonstrating the success of rehabilitation techniques in a region characterized by a lack of state control in its jails.

Apodaca prison in the state of Nuevo León was the scene of one of the most violent jail incidents in recent Mexican history, but it is now among the calmest in the country, according to a recent BBC Mundo report.

Behind this dramatic turnaround is a meditation program that is being carried out among 700 inmates, the news outlet reported. The technique, known as "Ishayas' Ascension," has been in place since 2014 and also involves prison guards and administrative staff.

No cases of extreme violence has been registered since its implementation, the meditation program's coordinator -- known as Madhavi Ishaya -- told BBC Mundo.

This provides a stark contrast from only a few years ago. In 2011, 14 Apodaca detainees were killed and their bodies incinerated. A riot the following year claimed the lives of 44 prisoners, and was the spark for authorities to search for a solution to the violence, according to BBC Mundo.

SEE ALSO:  InDepth: Prisons

The chosen meditation method has been used to promote peaceful cohabitation in communities around the world, and was the star of a recent documentary called "Choice."

The constant underlying tension among prisoners makes them more prone to outbreaks of aggression, but meditation reduces stress and encourages permanent state of wellbeing, Ishaya explained to BBC Mundo.

"If people are happy they aren't violent, when they're happy they don't hurt anyone," she said.

The meditation program has reportedly been implemented for at least 13 years in prisons across Mexico, and it will now be applied to two other penitentiaries in Nuevo León.

InSight Crime Analysis

Aggressive crackdowns on criminal groups coupled with a lack of state authority can turn a country's penitentiaries into hotspots of organized crime. Nevertheless, promoting cohabitation among inmates could help diminish clashes between rival gangs that are often required to live under the same roof.

SEE ALSO:  Coverage of What Works

In addition to the meditation program, other successful initiatives that have been implemented in Latin American jails include therapy sessions and workshops to rehabilitate young detainees in Guatemala, sports activities that have helped reduce prison violence and levels of recidivism in Argentina, and religious programs focusing on spiritual development, family ties and education in Chile.

Still, while positive, it may be difficult for peace-building techniques such as these to mitigate the powerful forces that often drive prison violence. In Brazil, for example, a recent spate of jail killings has been linked to the breakdown of a nationwide truce between the country's two main gangs.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

MEXICO / 14 JUN 2011

Police thwarted the attempted lynching of four suspected thieves in Mexico City, on the same day that the government launched…

METHAMPHETAMINE / 16 SEP 2015

A recent report from US anti-narcotics forces says there has been a dramatic drop in methamphetamine production in the United…

HOMICIDES / 14 FEB 2011

As Mexican authorities go after the leaders of drug trafficking organizations, to decapitate and dismantle them, the patterns of violence…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…