A Thai prison reforms prisoners on a vegetarian diet, chanting, and the teachings of S. N. Goenka.

Inmates at a Thai prison responded so positively to an Indian guru’s vegetarian diet and meditation course that the Corrections Department plans to expand the program nationwide, Thai officials said.

The inmates—fifty men and fifty women serving time for drug offenses at a prison in provincial Thailand—participated in a program in which they practiced meditation at 4:30 a.m., ate vegetarian meals, and listened to tapes of chanting.

“We found that it changed the behavior of the prisoners; it made them aware of right and wrong,” said Surang Ekkachote of Thailand’s Office of Correctional Inspectors Ten-day courses were taught to the inmates by followers of the Indian guru S. N. Goenka. The trial program at the Klong Pai Prison in Nakorn Ratchasima province, about 130 miles northeast of Bangkok, proved so popular that most participants continued their daily meditation after completing the course, Surang said.

The Corrections Department plans to expand the program to prisons in other regions, she said, adding that she was inspired to allow the program after watching a videotape of inmates meditating at an Indian prison. “The program began with people convicted in drug-related cases, but we plan to expand it to all kinds of prisons in the future.”utin Wannabovorn