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The Concord Prison Psilocybin Rehabilitation Project
by the ticktockman
2 Jan 94
Originally posted to alt.drugs
From: (the ticktockman)
Newsgroups: alt.drugs
Subject: Concord Prison Psilocybin Rehabilitation Project
Date: 2 Jan 94 20:17:26 GMT

Here's the original citation, FWIW:

Leary, T., Metzner, R., Presnell, M., Weil, G., Schwitzgebel, R., & Kinne, S. A change program for adult offenders using psilocybin. _Psychotherapy_, 1965.

Although I don't have this article handy, here's a pretty good (although brief) summary, reproduced without permission, from "Psychedelics Encylopedia", pp. 241-242:

"Three Psilocybin projects were set up in line with Leary and Alpert's specialty, the psychology of 'game-playing.' In early 1961, after initial psilocybin investigations, the Leary group began working in nearby Concord with convicts in the Massachusetts Correctional Institution, a maximum-security prison for young offenders. It was hoped that psilocybin could help prisoners 'see through' the self-defeating 'cops-and-robbers game' and become less destructive citizens ...

The six volunteers grew in number to thirty-five over the next two years. Each underwent two psilocybin experiences during six weeks of bi-weekly meetings. Although the subjects were not very well educated, they were able to detach themselves from their everyday roles and 'confront themselves,' recognizing constructive alternatives to their formerly violent and self-destructive behavior patterns. The question was what would happen to these prisoners upon release. Would the insights gained from two fairly heavy doses of psilocybin help them to lead useful and rewarding lives? Or would they soon be headed back to prison? Dr. Stanley Krippner, who also was given psilocybin at Harvard, ... summed up the results:

Records at Concord State Prison suggested that 64 per cent of the 32 subjects would return to prison within six months after parole. However, after six months, 25 per cent of those on parole had returned, six for technical parole violations and two for new offenses. These results are all the more dramatic when the correctional literature is surveyed; few short-term projects with prisoners have been effective to even a minor degree. In addition, the personality test scores indicated a measurable positive change when pre-psilocybin and post-psilocybin results were compared.

Although this psilocybin experiment included a lot of 'tender, loving care' and ** no control subjects ** [emphasis mine], it established a sound basis for hope. The results warrant at least one controlled study."

Also from _PE_, p. 243: "Second Annual Report; Psilocybin Rehabilitation Project: All the professional work on this project was volunteer. The expenses for clerical assistance and salaries for ex-inmate workers were covered by generous donations from The Uris Brothers Foundation, New York, and the Parapsychology Foundation, Eileen Garrett, President ... Applications to three offices of the U. S. Public Health Service requesting support for continuing this project were refused ... The project was designed as a pilot study -- necessarily exploratory -- since little was known about the long- range application of the substances."

And here (again, reproduced without permission) is an article from the MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) newsletter of Winter 1992 (vol 3, #4):

"A Long-Term Follow-Up to Dr. Timothy Leary's 1961-1962 Concord State Reformatory Rehabilitation Study

by Michael Forcier, Ph.D., Social Science Research & Evaluation, Inc. and Rick Doblin, Harvard Kennedy School of Government

[...] Two follow-ups were conducted with the inmate participants. A short- term follow-up occurred a mean period of 18 months after the first treatment. Twenty-four subjects who participated in the program were paroled within 10 months of first treatment. Of these 19 (77%) showed evidence of good adjustment while five were returned to prison during that time. The recidivism rate was 23% compared to an expected 65%.

A second, longer-term follow-up occurred roughly 3 years after the first treatment and all 32 inmates participated in the project. Of these 32, 27 had been released while 5 were still confined at Concord. As of January 27, 1964, 11 (41%) of the 27 released inmates were still out of prison, 13 (48%) had been returned as parole violators, and 3 (11%) were reincarcerated for new crimes. At this follow-up, the actual rate of recidivism was 59% as compared with an expected rate of 56% for the Concord inmate population as a whole. However, it was also expected that recidivists would be equally divided between parole violators and those committing new crimes where in actuality, those returned to prison were predominantly parole violators."

MAPS currently has a project underway to conduct a 30-year follow-up study with all 32 inmates (if possible); my understanding is that it currently lacks the funds to do this.