With its lush, picture-perfect vegetation and beautiful water, the island nation of Dominica has many attributes of a perfect island paradise. Unfortunately, its pristine qualities are marred by a much less desirable record: together with Russia and the United States, Dominica is among the top ten countries with the highest per capita incarceration rates.
But recently, government officials in Dominica have adopted a new approach to solving this problem. Last year Dominica began offering the Transcendental Meditation (TM®) technique to its prison population.
In these news videos, Dominican government leaders, prison administrators, and inmates talk about the results of this initiative.
According to Mr. Algernon Charter, the Superintendent of Prisons, Dominica is the first country in the Caribbean to offer the TM program to its prisoners, and he calls it “one of the most effective ways of rehabilitation for inmates” because it reduces their stress levels, helps them to relax, and makes them more proactive.
Based on previous research on prisons in the U.S. and several other countries that have adopted the use of the TM program, recidivism rates—the rate at which prisoners released from jail re-commit crime and are re-incarcerated—are expected to significantly decline. For example, in the West African nation of Senegal, where more than 11,000 inmates and 900 correctional officers and prison administrators in 31 of the 34 prisons were instructed in the Transcendental Meditation program, research found that rule infractions decreased, medical expenses went down 70%, and recidivism dropped from 90% in the pre-meditation period to less than 3% as a result of the program. (Reference: The TM Program in the Senegalese Penitentiary System)
Given the size of Dominica (pop. 78,000), the implementation of the TM program in its prisons could have a dramatic effect on the size of its prison population. This could cause Dominica to reverse its course from having one of the highest percentages of people in prison to having one of the lowest. What a wonderful change to make.