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Mindfulness and Justice

Apr 13, 2016 | by admin

Is there a relationship between mindfulness and how we practice justice? I believe everyone involved in the criminal justice system can benefit from mindfully practices. Here is why.

Is there a relationship between mindfulness and how we practice justice? What is mindfulness? Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and
 non-judgmentally.  In my opinion, there is no relation between justice and mindfulness, that’s an oxymoron.  But, we can begin to take the steps needed to incorporate mindfulness into our system.

Numerous disciplines and practices can promote mindfulness, such as yoga and tai chi. Most of the literature is focusing on mindfulness that is developed through mindfulness meditation “those self-regulation practices that focus on training attention and awareness in order to bring mental processes under greater voluntary control and thereby foster general mental well-being and development and/or specific capacities such as calmness, clarity and concentration” (Walsh & Shapiro, 2006).

On the other hand, in our criminal justice system, everything relies on rules and the rules are written by those in control. Those who gain the higher level of hierarchy who control the system; they establish the rules, judge violators and impose the punishments. Everyone involved in the criminal justice system can benefit from mindfully practices. Mindfulness need to be practiced with the full range of the U.S. criminal justice system, including current police officers, corrections officials, former judges, prosecutors, public defenders, the incarcerated, and prison guards.

Those who operate our institutions of criminal justice need to be guided both internally and externally, by principles of respect for human dignity and compassion for others. Training and supervision of criminal justice professionals need to include reflective practices that support mindful practice, values and behaviors.

We incarcerate thousands of people, which overpopulate our prisons. Majority of these prisoners face trauma, before, during and after being incarcerated. Once their sentence is served, we throw them back into our streets with this essential trauma unaddressed, claiming that they are “rehabilitated”. Mindfulness can aid in reducing that stress just as it does in the military. I believe that if police officers meditated for a few minutes at line-up before hitting the streets,  less stressed and more effective.

In order for our justice to become more unitive and practice “equality” as it is often described, we all need to do what is ethically and morally correct. We change what is in our hearts and minds. We become nonjudgmental and stress free.

 

(Walsh & Shapiro, 2006). http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/07-08/ce-corner.aspx

References

“Prison Mindfulness Institute » Mindful Justice Conference.” Prison Mindfulness Institute. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2016.

“Integrating Mindfulness into the Criminal Justice System.” Life of the Law. N.p., 16 Oct. 2013. Web. 17 Feb. 2016.