Yoga helping prisoners deal with problems

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Female prisoners at Lakin Correctional Center in Mason County are part of a pilot program examining the benefits of yoga for inmates.

State Corrections Commissioner Jim Rubenstein outlined the program to members of the Regional Jail and Corrections joint committee on Monday during Legislative interims.

The program is modeled after a one at the jail in Richmond, VA. Rubenstein said  had great success with their yoga program and the rate of recidivism.

“It seemed to bring more of a peaceful atmosphere that permeated through the facility,” explained Rubenstein. “We’re hoping for the same results.”

The instructors who lead the program at Lakin are volunteers and the pilot has cost virtually nothing to implement.

“They’ve started their first class with 25 females and so far the feedback has been very positive,” according to the commissioner.

Yoga has long been touted as a calming force for those who practice it and Rubenstein said it has lots of benefits.

“Not only are they getting the physical aspect of the yoga but also talking about domestic violence and some other areas during this class,” stressed the commissioner. “So far, so good.”

Rubenstein said it will take awhile to see the full impact of the pilot program. But from what the prison is reporting so far, it’s a success.

“We wanted to get the pilot up and running and see how it went. Certainly the desire is to expand into some other facilities,” he said.

Several lawmakers on the committee said they are very interested in starting yoga programs at correctional facilities in their districts.

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