About Prison SMART
“Expand your vision and see that inside every culprit, there is a victim crying for help. That person is also a victim of ignorance, small-mindedness and lack of awareness. It’s the stress, lack of broad vision about life, lack of understanding, and bad communication that leads to violence in society.”
- Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, IAHV Founder
Prison Stress Management and Rehabilitation Training (Prison SMART)
The Prison SMART programme’s objective is to make a life-transforming difference in the lives of all people within the criminal justice system, by teaching unique stress management skills for reducing stress, healing trauma, and providing practical knowledge of how to handle one’s emotions, live to one’s highest potential and contribute to society.
Prison SMART aims to reduce offender recidivism and end the repeated cycle of violence and abuse. Without tools to process past trauma and present stresses, incarcerated individuals often cope with their negative emotions such as anger, guilt, mistrust, and frustration with unhealthy behaviors and attitudes- including violence, addiction, apathy or lethargy. The Prison SMART programme offers practical methods for participants to transform these negative emotions for true rehabilitation, and develop the core human values innate in all human beings, such as service to others and compassion.
The Prison SMART programme has been taught in South African prisons since 2002. Over 8800 South African prisoners have benefited from the programme to date. Prison SMART has also received great print media coverage over the years which have built up its creditability. Prison SMART started in Zimbabwe, Tanzania & Kenya through recommendations from the Correctional Services in South Africa.
To date Prison SMART has been very successful with 11 prisons having benefited from the programme nationally, in:
1. Leeukop Maximum Medium & Juveniles security (Gauteng)
2. Bavianspoort Maximum Medium & Juveniles security (Gauteng)
3. Boksburg Maximum Medium & Juveniles security (Gauteng)
4. Vereeneging Maximum Medium & Juveniles security (Gauteng)
5. JHB Correctional Maximum & Medium security (Gauteng)
6. Groenpunt Maximum Medium & Juveniles security (Gauteng)
7. Krugersdorp Maximum and Medium security (Gauteng)
8. Westville Females & Juveniles security (Kwa-Zulu Natal)
9. Umzinto Medium security (Kwa-Zulu Natal)
10. Pollsmoor Maximum Medium & Juveniles security (Western Cape)
11. Bonnietoun Juvenile (Western Cape)
South Africa’s very first Prison SMART Part 2 Course
My heart was scared with pain, loneliness, anger and unworthiness. I made a decision to go for the prison smart program. That was the best thing I have done in my life. I then decided to go for the advanced smart program. That’s when I did something I wanted to do for a long time – I forgave. Yes, I forgave the man I hated with all my heart .”-shares Earl Brophy, a prisoner from the Krugersdorp Correctional Services, Gauteng, South Africa.
Earl was one of the 68 prisoners participating in South Africa’s very first Prison SMART Part 2 Course. Held in May 2010, the programmes specialized guided meditations, techniques and silence had a profound effect on the inmates.
Commended by the Department of Correctional Services, the programme empowers prisoners to rehabilitate from destructive addictions and behavioural problems and lead a more serene and peaceful life within the prison and have a positive outlook to life, out of the prison.
This course was the first step towards giving prisoners a real chance to living a life coming to terms with their past, free from guilt, anger, hatred and a host of negative emotions they are often plagued with.
“During the sessions, it was so amazing to observe the depth of silence that could be achieved just with a few rounds meditation. The prisoners expressed so much of gratitude for the attention they were being given as a result of the program. There were many curious questions about Sri Sri, how they can become teachers, as well as continuing with this when they were on the outside.“ shares an Art of Living volunteer on the course.
The Prison SMART programme has been taught at Krugersdorp Correctional Services since March 2009 with 350 prisoners successfully completing the Prison Smart Part 1 course.