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Walpole Study of the Transcendental Meditation Program in
Maximum Security Prisoners III: Reduced Recidivism

CHARLES N. ALEXANDER
Maharishi University of Management

MAXWELL V. RAINFORTH
Maharishi University of Management

PAUL R. FRANK
Maharishi University of Management

JAMES D. GRANT
Maharishi University of Management

CHRISTOPHER VON STADE
Fairfield, Iowa

KENNETH G. WALTON
Maharishi University of Management

Part III of the Walpole Prison Study builds on the earlier longitudinal and cross-sectional findings in Parts I and II that reported reduced psychopathology and accelerated psychological development in members of the Transcendental Meditation prison program. Part III is a retrospective investigation of recidivism among 286 inmates released from Walpole prison, who were followed for up to 59 months. The sample comprised all subjects from the following sources who had been released six months prior to data collection: (a) all inmates who had learned the TM program at Walpole; (b) random samples of four other prison programs at Walpole (counseling, drug rehabilitation, Christian, and Muslim); (c) a random sample of the Walpole inmate population; and (d) subjects who were tested longitudinally in the prior Walpole studies. The rate of return to prison for a stay of 30 days or more was 32% among inmates who practiced the TM technique compared to 48% for a combined control group comprised of members of four other prison programs. This represented a proportionate reduction in recidivism of 33%, which was statistically significant (p = .042). Separate comparisons showed that the TM group also had lower reincarceration rates than each of the four other programs, with proportionate reductions in recidivism ranging from 29% to 42% (p = .007 to .073). In addition, the TM group compared to all non-meditating subjects had a lower rate of reincarceration due to new convictions (47% lower, proportionately; p = .045) and a 27% proportionately lower rate of reincarceration/warrant for arrest (p = .069). The pattern of reduced recidivism for TM program members was maintained in multiple regression analyses, controlling for background and release variables (e.g., parole vs. full discharge, institution of release, drug history). These findings are consistent with the proposition that the reduced psychopathology and accelerated psychological development resulting from the TM program are responsible for reductions in criminal behavior.

KEYWORDS Transcendental Meditation, recidivism, maximum security prisoners, corrections, treatment, evaluation