White Paper-SunshineGirl

Working Hypothesis 1

Using yoga as a diversionary practice in penitentiaries will lower the overall rate of recidivism.

Working hypothesis 2

While using yoga classes as a way to ease the mind and spirit of prisoners in penitentiaries will be effective in some ways, it will not directly lead to an overall decrease in recidivism.


  1. “Can Yoga Overcome Criminality? The Impact of Yoga on Recidivism in Israeli Prisons”

Published April 14, 2020 Authors: Shaked Kovalsy, Badi Hasisi, Noam Haviv, Ety Elisha

This source covers a study done at the Israeli Prison Service on released prisoners. They participated in group yoga classes during their sentences and were studied over 5 years to log the recidivism rates. There was also a control group who did not practice any yoga in their jail times that was chosen carefully through a score matching system. When the two groups were compared it showed a lower recidivism rate in the first group. While it said further study was needed, the contributors of this paper concluded by recommending more types of alternative practices to assist in the rehabilitation process of inmates. The great thing about this article is that it has a lot of data and solid facts that can be used to form my opinion while writing my paper. 

  1. “A Systematic Review of Literature: Alternative Offender Rehabilitation—Prison Yoga, Mindfulness, and Meditation”

Published September 15, 2020 Author: Dragana Derlic

This article is more of a written gathering of ideas and not so much a formal study. It gives me background knowledge and a lot of new terms and quotes to use in my paper. It is more spiritual than the other sources and focuses on the well-being of the inmates. The main idea is that prisoners will not act out as much and will “calm down” if given the right healthcare and lifestyle. It favors the idea that these alternative methods to the standard prison policies are much more effective at creating better mental statuses and social connections, which are required to keep the prisoners from going back to their violent ways.

  1. “Participation in a 10-week Course of Yoga Improves Behavioural Control and Decreases Psychological Distress in a Prison Population”

Published October 2013 Authors: Amy C. Bilderbeck, Miguel Farias, Inti A. Brazil, Sharon Jakobowitz, Catherine Wikholm

Another study was done with yoga in prisons but this one was only a 10-week course with classes once a week and around 100 volunteers (including the control group) from different British institutions. Unlike the other study, the researchers did not continue the experiment for 5 years after to monitor rates of recidivism, they simply logged the inmates’ mood and psychological data like stress levels, cognitive behavior, and more. It was found that the classes lowered the stress and tendency to act irrationally in the participants significantly. This article might not have to do with the lowering of recidivism over time but there are a lot of psychological facts to back up any points I may make in my paper. 

  1. “Lessons in Flexibility: Introducing a Yoga Program in an Australian Prison”

Published in 2019 Authors: Anthony Hopkins, Lorana Bartels, Lisa Oxman

This study deals with a pilot yoga program for prisoners in the Alexander Maconochie Centre in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). The author teamed up with the ACT, the yoga teacher, and a psychologist who overlooked the whole experiment. Therefore this article has a little bit of everything I’m looking for- the prisons’ policies and the details of this study, the psychology behind it, and the spirituality factor which can all give me great quotes and phrases. The author and the psychologist both themselves participated in the program and gave first hand feedback of the positions, processes, exercises, etc. The article’s conclusion advocates for more alternative programs like this in prisons in Australia and elsewhere. A drawback from this study is that the sample size was only 8 which might leave some room for interpretation of error.

  1. “Yoga in Penitentiary Settings: Transcendence, Spirituality, and Self-Improvement”

Published in march 2017 Author: Mar Griera

This study is a multiple case study with the goal of better understanding the effects of yoga from a psychological standpoint as it is practiced by many people around the world but not yet fully understood as a rehabilitation method. This study focuses on the religious and meditative aspects instead of the physical benefits of the movements. It was said that yoga allowed the inmates to “transcend their everyday prison lives”. It used data from three different experiments in Barcelona penitentiaries. Again, the results were not based on recidivism but more so dealt with the changes in the inmates’ mindsets and spirituality. Something I like about this article is that it directly compares different prison policies around the world and the qualities of lifestyle. It discusses the Spanish constitution and prison methods which support mental and social growth and rehabilitation, as compared to the US where it is frequent for inmates to be alone and under cared for as a form of punishment for their crimes. One thing I dislike about it is that the data is all put into lengthy paragraphs and there are no images, charts, or graphs like in the other studies.

Weaker but quotable sources:

“Yoga Changing Lives in Prisons: For Many, Yoga can be a Pathway to Address Trauma”

Published July 30, 2016 Author: Rosemary Ponnekanti

“Norfolk Man Pardoned After 21 Years Uplifts Inmates who Practice Yoga to Reduce Recidivism”

Published August 18, 2018 Author: Cung Kim

“Prison Yoga as a Correctional Alternative?: Physical Culture, Rehabilitation, and Social Control in Canadian Prisons

Publication date unknown Author: Mark Norman

Definition argument ideas:

The main argument for this is to identify the difference between the lowering of recidivism rates and the lower of stress. My hypothesis specifically deals with the tendency of the participants to not relapse back into a life of crime. This somewhat goes hand-in-hand with mood and mental stability but not necessarily all the time.

Cause/effect argument ideas:

These sources help me get an understanding of the studies done in prisons and the effect they have on the inmates, but don’t give me a solid idea of what will come of them. Yes it’s good to get a better understanding of alternative rehab methods for criminals but I’m not sure if this will translate to any major changes in penitentiary policies. What will come of these findings? In order to have a great effect on the world, the target audience would be wardens of institutions, but they appear to be more focused on the scientist and researcher aspects. Also, it might be expensive or impractical to implicate yoga classes in more prisons as the schedules are already so strict. Although, our prisons have drastically changed over the last hundred years so hopefully at some point in the future these ideas will spread and yoga classes will become more popular, or maybe even mandatory, in prisons.

Rebuttal argument ideas:

It can be said that the idea that yoga works as a rehabilitation technique does not hold true for all inmates. In most of my sources it does not specify the inmates’ crimes and if they have murdered or severely injured people, are sociopaths documented as criminally insane, have fallen into substance abuse, or have simply repeated minor offenses that made their sentence time accumulate. While I’m sure the researchers did a great job in picking their samples, that information is not clearly stated in each source and can lead to some variation of the argument.

I have turned this assignment in way later than I should have, but rather than just ignore it I needed to complete it late regardless. This is the foundation for my paper and all the research I do will be gathered here. I think I have a pretty satisfactory start with a solid topic and can definitely build upon this. The thing I like about my sources is that they all have the same idea but are very different. There are some that focus on the spiritual and meditative side of my topic, and others that go in depth into professional studies done. The studies all differ and take place in a variety of locations from Israel to Australia to Virginia. I also have a lot of great quotes starting to come together and I think with more dedication to and hard work in this class it will be doable. Also I would like to add that not all of these sources are available through the Rowan Library but they gave me temporary access to download them. I took pictures just in case I lost them. They are all full text, peer-reviewed articles with an exception for the additional weaker sources which are relatively short but still provide some good information.

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5 Responses to White Paper-SunshineGirl

  1. sunshinegirl457 says:

    Could you please give me some feedback?


  2. davidbdale says:

    Rarely do I see directly contradictory Hypotheses in the White Paper, Sunshine, but I understand the value of hedging your bets. Prosecutors in criminal cases take defendants to court to prove Murder 1 charges, but they back them up with Murder 2, Felony Murder, even Aggravated Assault, to give the jury a chance to convict on SOMETHING rather than declare the defendant Not Guilty on a sole charge. You indicate with this tactic that you’re willing to prove LESS but not NOTHING, which I admire.


  3. davidbdale says:

    2 Reactions to your Sources and your descriptions of your sources.

    1. If every source you found concluded that yoga reduced recidivism, you wouldn’t have a Hypothesis at all. You’d be sharing a proven fact that didn’t need your help or explanation. You sound as if you’re apologizing when you explain that not all your sources actually tie yoga to rehabilitation, but you have nothing to apologize for. Sources that help a reader understand HOW yoga affects the convict brain or temperament; sources that help explain WHY a practice begun in prison could contribute to the life-long improvement of an ex-con’s life; these are gold. Cherish and use the heck out of them. Readers may doubt the statistics from an 8-person study, but if you back up the numbers with perceptive reasoning, you can help them embrace the counterintuitive.

    2. You worry me a little—not a lot—with your comment that “this article has a little bit of everything . . . which can all give me great quotes and phrases.” From a writer less dedicated to finding and sharing the truth, this would sound like someone trying to prove a prejudice. I trust that, if you find your research does not support everything you’re “looking for,” you’d just as soon argue for your Hypothesis 2.

    You’re very impressive, Sunshine.


  4. davidbdale says:

    That’s tricky. Lowering stress inside the prison means reacting to a known and, one might suppose, fairly constant situation. Returning to “the wild” might completely obviate the benefits of techniques practiced under the “controlled environment” of prison. I think your challenge will be to demonstrate that, whatever conditions an ex-convict faces upon release, s/he is better able to face them, maintain self-control, and overpower dangerous reflex reactions if s/he has achieved a DISCIPLINE, a CALMING TECHNIQUE, a PERSPECTIVE that values reflection over reflex. Something like that.

    I’m impressed that you want to influence penitentiary policies, but, like you, I’m cynical that wardens will adopt any policy that isn’t mandated or somehow reflects well on them. It’s too much to ask of a 3000-word Comp II essay, but, if you’ve identified wardens as your target audience, do you know what motivates them? They probably know how to “put down” violence, but do they get rewarded for avoiding it? Does anybody track how many of their “graduates” re-offend and return to prison, or reward wardens for low recidivism numbers? Tragically, I’m afraid, our privatized penal system benefits from recidivism. Inmates are their customers. Think about that for a moment. Your beautiful, utterly justifiable ethical argument has to compete with profit. Do you dare to suggest a radical Conclusion? Nothing logical, beneficial, or moral will ever result from our “world’s biggest and best” prison system until Wardens and Prison Contractors are remunerated NOT for how many prisoners they house but for what percentage of prisoners NEVER COME BACK.

    Wow. This doesn’t happen, Sunshine. You’re critical of your own sources because they aren’t transparent in ways that would make them more credible (or less so) if they shared their selection criteria with you. Let me say this is not a consideration that troubles many from your cohort. Let’s consider whether you can advocate for tweaking the prison’s Day Activity Calendar without having solid evidence that a 10-session yoga course from someone who conducts classes at the local “adult-learning” center will convert a satanic cult murderer into a teen center moderator. I think you can. You don’t need to prove that stranglers will become reflex huggers. A trend will do. An incremental improvement is enough to steer the battleship slowly in the right direction. (That said, the researchers owed you better information.)


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