Can Giving Ayahuasca to Prisoners Reduce Recidivism?

The Brazilian government has been trying to answer this very question in its ever-growing prison population, which has doubled since the year 2000. 

The Brazilian prison population has doubled since 2000. (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Keep reading Show less
Surprising Science

Prison Dehumanizes the Incarcerated—The Prison Project Brings Them Back

California prisons are about as off-off-off-off Broadway as it gets—but that's where the emotional tools of theatre can make the biggest difference to people's lives.\r\n

In the last 35 years, California has built approximately 22 new prisons, and the state has one of the highest recidivism rates in the country. The US's prison industrial complex has been called America's human rights crisis. So is it possible for prisoners have hope for their future? How do you retain your humanity in an inhumane system? Ten years ago, actor Sabra Williams had an experimental idea: she wanted to bring The Actor's Gang Theatre Company into prisons to work with non-actors, and offer them the emotional tools needed to heal from the trauma of being incarcerated, and all the events of their lives before that. That was the start of the Prison Project, and a decade later it is operating in 10 prisons across California. How well has it worked? It has transformed prison yards. It has built bridges between gangs. Participants have just a 10% recidivism rate and in-prison infractions have dropped by 89%. Engaging in the safe and playful space of theatre is a way for incarcerated people to engage with their emotions, often for the very first time. The entire prison community is deeply interwoven and affected by each other, so the Prison Project is developing a program for correctional officers too, who are often highly traumatized by their experiences, and have highest suicide rate of any job. Sabra Williams runs us through the Prison Project, and introduces former-inmate and student Chris Bingley to share his personal story of reconnecting with his humanity while in prison. This video was filmed at the Los Angeles Hope Festival, a collaboration between Big Think and Hope & Optimism. The Actors’ Gang conducts weekly and seven-day intensive programs inside the California prison system, a weekly re-entry program in the community, as well as a program in juvenile facilities, and soon to be a program designed for correctional officers. Head here for more information on The Actors' Gang Prison Project.

Keep reading Show less
Sponsored

Why 'Made in Prison' is the new 'Made in China'

Should companies provide a ‘Made In an American Prison’ label if the product is made in an American jail?

Should companies provide a ‘Made In an American Prison’ label if the product is made in an American jail? Over the last few decades there has been a huge surge of products made in prison factories by inmates. These products—which range from clothes to military equipment and everything in between—are made extremely cheaply because the workers are often paid pennies, if at all. Is this the continuation of slavery? Renowned playwright Liza Jessie Peterson thinks so, and she talks to us about how today’s privatized prison labor problem is a huge human rights problem happening right here on American soil.

Keep reading Show less
Politics & Current Affairs

Psychopaths do feel regret – but only after they’ve crossed the line

They have the same feelings as normal people. It’s how they make decisions that’s different. 

 

Still from showtime series Dexter.

Utter the word psychopath and immediately ideas of a sadistic serial killer with a penchant for blood comes to mind. Would it surprise you to know that you may interact with one every day? In fact, psychologists have noted that some of the top CEOs and others who hold lofty positions, and even many regular people who do not, have this condition. You may know, love, or even be a psychopath and not even know it. The important thing here is to define what a psychopath is.

Keep reading Show less
popular

Want Meaningful Prisoner Reform? Try Shakespeare, Says Margaret Atwood

What happens when Shakespeare goes to prison? His works humanize prisoners and open them up to reform in a way that the prison system fails to, says author Margaret Atwood.

In Margaret Atwood’s new novel Hag-Seed, the protagonist Felix loses his job as a theatre director and is exiled to teach in a prison. Exiled? You betcha. Atwood’s latest work is a re-telling of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

Keep reading Show less
Videos