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TESP - an Alternative Sentencing Program
that Utilized the Transcendental Stress Management
 Program for Offender Rehabilitation

Summer 2005 Newsletter

On the auspicious day of "Guru Purnima" in the Vedic Calendar, we have the pleasure of sharing with you our Summer 2005 Newsletter. 



Hon. Chief Justice of Missouri Guest of Honor at next  TESP Graduation

We are happy to announce that the next TESP graduation will take place on Monday 29th August, at 6.00 p.m. at our center in downtown St Louis (Centenary Church Offices, 55 Plaza Square, St Louis, MO 63103).  Our Guest of Honor will be Hon. Justice Michael A. Wolff, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Missouri.  Senator the Hon. Rita Days of the Missouri Legislature  and  several judges will be attending the celebration, including Hon. Judge Henry E. Autrey, Federal Judge, Hon. Judge David C. Mason, Founding Judge of TESP, Hon. Judge Philip Heagney, and Hon. Judge Lisa Van Amburg.    Our Guest Speaker will be Arthur John Anderson, Ph D.  Probation Officers from both St Louis and Jerseyville, Illinois, have been invited to the graduation as well.


Large number of graduates

We expect about 40 probationers and parolees to graduate on this occasion.  The TESP started a group in Illinois earlier this year and graduates from this group will be joining those in St Louis for the celebration on the 29th of August. Families and friends of the graduates are invited to attend.  Friends of TESP are also invited to attend.  Kindly let us know in advance if you plan to attend (r.s.v.p. by email or by telephone on 314 367 1166).

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New Advisory Board Member

We are happy to inform you that Hon. Judge Lisa Van Amburg of the Judicial Circuit Court of St Louis, Missouri, has joined the Advisory Board of The Enlightened Sentencing Project, and has been actively sentencing probationers to TESP as a condition of probation.  We warmly welcome Judge Van Amburg to TESP's Advisory Board.  Judge Van Amburg is one of several judges on the Advisory Board of TESP.  The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Missouri, Hon. Justice Michael A. Wolff, heads the TESP Advisory Board.  The TESP is grateful for the advice and guidance of this august body.

Judge Van Amburg has been an Adjunct Professor of Law at Washington University in St. Louis and a past Co-Chair of the Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity Law.  She has been a past recipient of the following awards: President's Award of the Women Lawyers' Association of Greater St. Louis;  the Robert Walston Chubb Award of Legal Services of Eastern Missouri;  the Legal Services to Civil Liberties Award of the American Civil Liberties Union; and the Horace Mann Award of the Missouri NEA. 
 

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Endorsement from Hon. Judge Lisa Van Amburg
 



Hon. Judge Lisa Van Amburg
of the Judicial Circuit of St Louis


Judge Van Amburg gave the following endorsement of The Enlightened Sentencing Project on July 15, 2005.

"The first year that I was assigned to criminal court in 2003, time and again I stared into the face of an offender pleading guilty to a drug or alcohol-related offense, domestic abuse, or answering to a charge of violation of a condition of probation.   The faces all showed defeat, humiliation, shame, anger and frustration with the lives they were living and the predicament they had got themselves into. Most of these offenders are people extremely limited in their ability to cope with life's stresses.  They self-medicate with illegal drugs and alcohol. They seemed compelled, even in the face of imprisonment, to continue their illegal drug use; assault their families, drive while intoxicated or to engage in other illegal conduct.
 
I struggled to understand why and how it was they appeared to lack control over their lives. I tried a number of sentencing alternatives, regarding prison as a last resort.  Slowly, options other than prison began to diminish. The legislature of the State of Missouri, at the conclusion of the last budget year, slashed funding for community based drug treatment and other services intended to keep non-violent offenders out of prison.   We judges are now left with few choices, either imprisonment or probation with little or no likelihood of success.
 
This predicament led me to seek more information about The Enlightened Sentencing Project.  Perhaps the western ideas of how best to deal with these offenders do not work as well as we assumed.  Perhaps it is time to try a new approach, one that does not require a great expenditure of public or private funds and one that has demonstrated hope for success.  The TESP program offers this hope.  It teaches important stress management and coping skills while at the same time giving offenders confidence in their ability to survive whatever life dishes out, without having to resort to substance abuse.
 
I personally have undergone the transcendental stress management meditation training and feel that it has been helpful in lowering my blood pressure, which tends to rise to unhealthy levels during stressful times.  I have slowly come to understand why the results I see with offenders whom I have sent through the program are so promising.  The TESP trainers do not talk to the offenders about drugs and alcohol.  Nobody tests their urine or lectures about bad behavior, failure, bad decisions or dysfunction. Those topics are simply not in the curriculum.    Instead, the offender is invited into a tranquil group surrounding and taught a very simple stress management technique, meditation, which is fast gaining acceptance in our western culture as an effective tool for combating the debilitating effect of modern day stress on our lives.
 
The offenders report in their final essays their own surprise and delight at the positive changes they have been able to make in their lives due to their calmer demeanors and better health, which they attribute to regular meditative practices. 
 
I would like to learn more about what happens after they leave the supervision of the courts.  I am presently encouraging the collection of academically sound data as a means of measuring the progress of offenders who go through the TESP program.  I am hopeful that with sound metrics, we will be able to establish objective measures of success and open new doors in the field of criminal rehabilitation.  I strongly recommend that other judges, prosecutors, public and private defenders give this program a chance.  I am grateful to the TESP program for the opportunities it presents to these offenders and to the court for a viable and cost effective alternative to prison." 
 

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New Member of the Board of Directors
We wish to welcome Ms. AnneLuise Montgomery, JD, MBA, to our Board of Directors.    AnneLuise is an attorney from Kentucky and  has been a volunteer with TESP for some time now.  We are happy that AnneLuise has joined our Board as Treasurer.


Success and progress of The Enlightened Sentencing Project
TESP continues to make inroads in the field of criminal justice reform and rehabilitation with the support of friends of the Project.  We look forward to welcoming many of you at our Graduation on 29th August.  Those of you in the field who are considering starting a rehabilitation project in your state or country are encouraged to attend the Graduation as you will have the opportunity to hear from the brilliant panel of judges and special guests assembled for the occasion, and to meet the probation officers and graduates personally.

With warmest good wishes to all,

Farrokh & Ruffina
 
 
Bringing the Light of Knowledge
to the Field of Offender Rehabilitation

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The Enlightened Sentencing Project was a 501 (c) 3 organization and was not affiliated with the national Transcendental Meditation organization.