A Brazilian prison grants some inmates a brief furlough to attend services of the Santo Daime religion where they consume the psychedelic beverage ayahausca. According to this article in the New York Times, about 15 prisoners a month, including murderers and rapists, visit a temple in the rainforest along with therapists and prison guards who sometimes drink the Daime tea.
“’I’m finally realizing I was on the wrong path in this life,’ said Celmiro de Almeida, 36, who is serving a sentence for homicide at a prison four hours away on a road that winds through the jungle. ‘Each experience helps me communicate with my victim to beg for forgiveness,’ said Mr. de Almeida, who has taken ayahuasca nearly 20 times at the sanctuary here.”
This innovative program appealed to Brazilian authorities as a way to ease the burden on the nation’s overcrowded, underfunded, and violent prison system. The American penal system is a national nightmare and reform seems to be one area where conservatives and liberals can find common ground. We have our own Santo Daime churches. Perhaps they could help.