AYAHUASCA IN JAILS (Article by the New York Times) It is being proven that it is possible to do something for those who, for society, have no solution.

Can a criminal change his life?

A psychologist from an organisation which works with Brazilian jail prisoners affirms: “we see the prisoners as human beings with the capacity of changing”

Brazil Is Giving Ayahuasca To Prison Inmates On Their Path To Redemption

April 9, 2015 by Jeff Roberts.

In a quest to ease pressures on the Brazilian prison system, mental health workers have opted to give prison inmates the psychedelic brew ayahuasca, in the hopes of helping them to work through their deeply-rooted emotional traumas. 

It is no secret that the current prison system is in shambles. Over crowded holding spaces, abusive staff, unsanitary living conditions – these types of environments are rarely conducive to redemption and rehabilitation, but instead almost always seed further violence, aggression, and feelings of alienation from society.

While some prisons are now offering holistic services such as yoga, meditation, and Reiki, prisoners’ rights advocacy group Acuda is taking it one step further, offering Brazilian prisoners a real shot at a new life through the use of the traditional Amazonian brew, ayahuasca.

Ayahuasca is a psychoactive brew that combines a specific Amazonian vine (Banisteriopsis caapi) with a leaf (Psychotria viridis), creating an extremely pungent, orally-active cocktail of DMT, a powerful psychedelic known to induce mystical and life changing experiences for its user.

At first, Acuda had trouble finding a place where the inmates could drink the ayahuasca, but they were finally accepted by an offshoot of Santo Daime, a Brazilian religion founded in the 1930s which blends Catholicism, African traditions, and the trance communications with spirits popularized in the 19th century by a Frenchman known as Allan Kardec.

Many people in Brazil believe that inmates must suffer, enduring hunger and depravity,” said Euza Beloti to the NY Times, a psychologist with Acuda, “This thinking bolsters a system where prisoners return to society more violent than when they entered prison. [At Acuda] we simply see inmates as human beings with the capacity to change.”

Supervisors at Acuda, who obtain a judge’s permission to take about 15 prisoners once a month to the temple ceremony, say they are mindful of the risks of ayahuasca, commonly called Daime in Brazil or referred to as tea. At the same time, Acuda’s therapists consume the brew with the inmates, as well as with the occasional prison guard who volunteers to accompany the group.

This is how it should be,” said Virgílio Siqueira, 55, a retired police officer who works as a guard at the prison complex that includes Acuda. “It’s gratifying to know that we can sit here in the forest, drink our Daime, sing our hymns, exist in peace.”

But in a country where conservative views are ever-growing in response to continual violence and crime, not everyone is convinced this intervention is okay.

Where are the massages and the therapy for us?” asked Paulo Freitas, a 48-year-old manager at a leather factory whose 18-year-old daughter, Naiara, a college student, was kidnapped, raped, and murdered in Porto Velho in 2013 by a group of men – a crime that stunned many people in this corner of the Amazon.

Whether or not we should be providing convicts with therapies that could be considered “luxury” is a justified question no doubt. However, we cannot ignore the fact that many criminals eventually return to society after their sentence. Do we want to see these people as a product of years of violence and aggression, most likely repeating their offences, or would we rather have them come out of their sentence with new insights, a new perspective on their past choices, and a chance to do things differently?

We are considered the trash of Brazil, but this place accepts us,” said Darci Altair Santos da Silva, 43, a construction worker serving a 13-year sentence for sexual abuse of a child under 14. “I know what I did was very cruel. The tea helped me reflect on this fact, on the possibility that one day I can find redemption.”

What are your thoughts on offering prisoners psychedelic therapy? Share with us in the comment section below!

Source: The NY Times


Ayahuasca International holds Inner Evolution retreats with therapeutic use of Ayahuasca in several countries in Europe.

For bookings or to request any further information call to +49 (0) 171 987 6655 (also available by whatsapp) or write to [email protected] 


6 thoughts on “AYAHUASCA IN JAILS (Article by the New York Times) It is being proven that it is possible to do something for those who, for society, have no solution.”

  1. I have had over thirty years of experience with ayahuasca and other psychedelics and I was always intrigued with Timothy Leary’s pilot project giving psylocybin to prisoners. I am concerned however that in many instances those behind bars may have serious trauma in their personal histories. And I am also concerned with the possibility that incarceration will continue te lead to ignorance about the socio-economic conditions that foster criminal behavior. With due attention, I am sure much can be learned and achieved using ayahuasca amongst prisoners. But we must guard against it being a sort of replacement therapy where we expect profound transformations without the deep therapeutic work or the social structures to support prisoners returning to society

    1. Hugo Oklander

      Hello Daniel
      We have found that using ayahuasca without a psychotherapeutic support wastes most of its potential The experience may be impressive but it usually fails to bring any permanent benefits, and in some cases it may even be inappropriate even though ayahuasca is a remarkably safe substance.

  2. I am a high-school teacher and have learned along the way that there are reasons for the things that people choose to do. As a teacher and makes my skin crawl to think of a child being sexually abused. Why would a person do this though? There are no losers and no one is a hopeless cause. If this helps in their Rehabilitation as long as there is continuing accountability for their behavior this seems to be a viable option. Rrw

  3. All life is suffering. .it is natural to help others. .if one is left out the whole continue to suffer. .

    1. Hugo Oklander

      There´s a big difference between pain and suffering, Yazmin.
      The Buddha talked extensively about it. Pain is an unavoidable fact of life but there are ways out of suffering.
      Ayahuasca is of great help for learning them.

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