Can Society Really Afford to Ignore Fairness & Rehabilitation in Prisons?

January 28, 2011

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In Brisbane, Australia, Napoleon is not dead! His law, in which you are guilty until proven innocent, still reigns in the Australian state of Queensland. People accused of a crime there can be imprisoned for up to 5 years without a trial. Within that time, their lives are ruined, whether they are guilty of the crime of which they’ve been accused or not.

Divorce, business, bankruptcy, future unemployability, and estrangement from one’s own young children are common events for prisoners being held there.

While many prisons worldwide have “rehabilitation” in their names or mission statements, seldom is anything resembling rehabilitation provided. As a result, men whose lack of awareness of viable choices and social skills got them in trouble in the first place receive further training in anti-social behavior and not much else while in jail.

Not only are men being imprisoned without much sense of fairness, but also when they are finally released on the street they are primed to return to prison. In at least one prison in Queensland, Australia, they are released on Friday night with no money, housing, job prospects, or food. Most of them commit a crime to get back to the life they know, where they at least have a bed and three square meals, by the next week. It’s hardly surprising that the recidivism rate is 95%!

What folly is this, and at what cost not only to the accused whose lives are destroyed, but also to the taxpayers and society at large?

What would the savings to taxpayers and society at large be if these men could actually be rehabilitated instead of only punished?

Society can hardly allow violent or property crimes to go unpunished, of course. If more could be done to facilitate the true rehabilitation of inmates, wouldn’t society itself as well as the individuals be better for it? In these days of global economic crisis, how much public funds could be saved and better spent if an effective way to develop more social coping skills existed? Wouldn’t it benefit everyone in society if youthful offenders did not become lifetime dependents on the state?

So, what does all of this have to do with Access and what Access Consciousness has to offer? Two courageous women in Brisbane are aiming to change this scenario, 12 prisoners at a time. Marg Braunack. N.D., 55, and Wendy Mulder, R.N., 54, are spending one day a week teaching a tool of Access Consciousness called “The Bars” to classes of prisoners in a maximum security remand center in Brisbane Australia.

Mulder initiated the program by making a cold call. The author of Learning from Grief, a book based on 30 years experience as a nurse and mid-wife, she was interested in seeing what the tools she learned through her experience and Access Consciousness could do for the prison population.

Braunack trained as a doctor of naturopathy, and is also an internationally recognized trainer in Neuro-Linguistic Programing (NLP) who specializes in leadership, business and empowerment issues. She has been a licensed facilitator of Access Consciousness for 5 years.

Both professional women are donating not only their time, but also materials and food. Yet they both feel the prisoners with whom they work have given them more than they actually have provided the prisoners. The changes occurring with the prisoners are huge.

One of the first changes prisoners report is an ability to sleep peacefully through the night. This alone is a life changing affect, according to Braunack. The typical prisoner receives sleep medications and is still unable to sleep more than 4 restless hours a night.

When they can sleep 7 hours of restful sleep, they become different people. When sleep medications are no longer required, the savings to taxpayers can be huge, since each daily pill costs taxpayers $3, or more than $1000 per year. Sleep medications have side effects which are especially undesirable in the prison population—cognitive impairment, memory lapses, and hallucinations.

The changes in these men are immediately observable, even if they are not all measurable. Says Mulder, “Walking into the prison each week through the security checks and then through the many locked doors that you can barely open with an officer by your side, you look around at the faces of the inmates; so many, so young, so much boredom and frustration. By the end of the day you can see the change in those who have had the bars and what a gift indeed! The inmates have facilitated me and shown me the true magic of the bars.”

“The Bars” which Mulder refers to are not the alcoholic type of bars that we are all used to hearing about in day-to-day conversation. They are one of the many hands on healing techniques of Access Consciousness. They consist of 32 points on the head, which are lightly held in a relaxing process that takes about an hour and is easily learned even by those with no advanced or medical education.

“The worst you can feel” after Bars session, says practitioners of this method, is “more relaxed than after you had a great massage.” “The best that can happen,” they say, “is that your whole life can change.”

Biofeedback experts can confirm that this technique changes the electrical functioning of the brain, through changes in the brain waves. Practitioners of the Bars say just one session erases years if not lifetimes of negativity and limitations. These limitations include the negative emotions that have gotten so many of the inmates that Mulder and Braunack work with in trouble in the first place.

While not all results are measurable, they are noticed both by the inmates and those who know them. After learning that his wife was having an affair, one man noted that he would have pulled the phone out of the wall prior to having his “bars run.” Instead, he handled the news so calmly that his wife actually wondered if something was wrong with him! When inappropriate expression of anger is clearly a problem with the men imprisoned for serious crimes like murder, assault, and arson, such a change is certainly worth noting.

The transformation, according to Braunack, goes both ways. “I went in there with the attitude, ‘Who can I change?’” she recalls. Instead, “it’s changing me. Seeing the change that my allowance and caring create in their lives, the caring that has shown up for me is something that I didn’t know I had. It has facilitated allowance in me that I never had before.”

Allowance is a state of no judgment, quite a contrast to the lives of the men Braunack and Mulder are working with. “Their whole lives are about judgment, they’re always judged wrong, and now they’re accused of committing judgeable offences.”

The tools of Access Consciousness are certainly new to prisons. Yet the early results of using them with the prison population offer results, which could be more encouraging than anything that’s come out of prison lately. Might it be time to try this new approach, not only for the sake of the inmates, but for the sake of all of us who share the planet with them?

More information about Access Consciousness and the Bars can be found at the website, www.accessconsciousness.com. Nearly 300 people world wide are trained to facilitate classes in which the Bars are taught.



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