Brazilian Prisons Using Hallucinogenics to Rehabilitate Violent Criminals

Cassius Methyl
April 3, 2015

(ANTIMEDIA) In the Brazilian city of Ji-Paraná, people convicted of such things as murder and rape are now being given Ayahuasca in shamanic ceremonies designed to rehabilitate them and allow them profound, life changing spiritual experiences. Volunteer therapists realized nothing is working effectively to psychologically treat them, so they decided to take it from an entirely different angle.

If you were unaware, Ayahuasca is a long-standing South American spiritual tradition. It’s a brew containing Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) containing root-bark, and leaves that make the DMT activate after consuming it orally. The brew has been used in shamanic ceremonies for hundreds, possibly thousands of years. Some believe DMT is created in your brain’s pineal gland when you dream and when you die, and believe the molecule is an actual portal that transfers your spirit from the body into a state of hallucinogenic consciousness. People who consume Ayahuasca describe communicating with ‘otherworldly’ beings, and being transported out of their bodies; it lasts about 2-6 hours. The theory of DMT being created in the pineal gland has been partially proven, as DMT has been found in the pineal glands of rats. I highly recommend you read ‘DMT; The Spirit Molecule’ by Rick Strassman if you have never heard of it.

“I’m finally realizing I was on the wrong path in this life,” said 36 yr old Celmiro de Almeida, a man serving a sentence for murder who was given the opportunity to try Ayahuasca. “Each experience helps me communicate with my victim to beg for forgiveness,” he said. Celmiro took Ayahuasca almost 20 times in these ceremonies.

Volunteer therapists with an organization called Acuda are administering the Ayahuasca treatments, which have proved to be quite effective so far.

Left: Ayahuasca preparation. Right: Brazilian prisoners
Left: Ayahuasca preparation. Right: Brazilian prisoners

According to the New York Times, “At the temple here in Ji-Paraná, the inmates appeared to experience a range of reactions after drinking the ayahuasca. Sitting on plastic lawn chairs under a tile roof, some were stone-faced. Others seemed lost in contemplation. One was constantly in tears, as if demons were at the door. All of them sang at the top of their lungs when the rhythm of the hymns intensified.”

About 15 people a month are allowed to visit the Acuda building where they meditate and take Ayahuasca. “This is how it should be,” Virgílio Siqueira said, as a guard at a 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.”

The inmate population in Brazil nearly doubled since 2000, with about 550,000 people incarcerated total. The multinational drug war’s vicious circle is still unleashing hell on Brazil as well as Mexico, Peru, Columbia, and other nearby areas.

Some families of people killed by the inmates are upset that it was given to them, while they have no free Ayahuasca to deal with their loss. “Where are the massages and the therapy for us?” said 48 yr old Paulo Freitas, a man whose 18-year-old daughter was kidnapped, raped and murdered in Pôrto Velho 2 years ago by a man now being treated with Ayahuasca. “This is utterly revolting,” he said. “My daughter’s dreams were extinguished by that man, but he will be allowed to go into the jungle and drink his tea.”

There is also a prevailing attitude among many in Brazil that prisoners should be harshly punished rather than rehabilitated. “Many people in Brazil believe that inmates must suffer, enduring hunger and depravity,” said 40 yr old Euza Beloti, a psychologist. “This thinking bolsters a system where prisoners return to society more violent than when they entered prison…we simply see inmates as human beings with the capacity to change.”

“We are considered the trash of Brazil, but this place accepts us,” said 43 yr old Darci Altair Santos da Silva, a construction worker doing 13 years 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.”

Multiple recent scientific studies have pointed to hallucinogenics as a valid treatment for mental illness and trauma therapy such as PTSD. Though long term results are yet to be known from these Ayahuasca treatments in Brazil, the science behind the medical value of hallucinogenics can no longer be denied.

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