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An Alternative Sentencing Program
utilizing the Transcendental Stress Management
SM (TSMSM ) program

Seventh TESP Graduation, September 1, 2004

 

 



Hon. Judge David C. Mason, Circuit Judge
22nd Judicial Circuit of Missouri;
Founding Judge, TESP

 

 

Address by Hon. Judge David C. Mason

"Congratulations guys and gal for going through the program.  I just want you to know that the courts really appreciate all of you for taking the time to do something to really help yourself.  Because there is more going on than just you guys doing well.  It’s the people around you that are going to do better.  It’s going to be your sons, your daughters, your brothers and sisters, your mothers and your fathers.  All are going to do better because of the example that you are going to set for them. 

 

So you guys are actually going to go out and save people’s lives.  By nothing more - not through great persuasive words that we lawyers try to do, not through powerful decrees of judgment like we judges like to do, not through huge amounts of money, or through armaments or armies.  You are going to change and save people’s lives through something a whole lot more powerful – through the simple and persuasive power of your own example.  So go on guys and just be you. Keep practicing your meditation and just be you.

 

To my distinguished colleagues and honored member of the Federal Bench, as well as those who take the time to teach the Transcendental Meditation technique, those who donate money to the program, those who take the time in their job to persuade their colleagues in the Department of Corrections to support the program, those family members who give from the heart and love those who are in this program, welcome.  This is what it’s all about. We have all succeeded in accomplishing what you set out to accomplish. 

When I was working in the Department of Corrections my job as General Counsel often required me to go to the Governor’s Office.  The Governor at that time was John Ashcroft.  He had on his desk the little plaque I will always remember.   It applies to judges here, teachers, family, officers donors supporters and officers of the probation and parole office who support this program.   Let me just quote that to you.  “There is no limit to what a man can do if he doesn’t care who gets the credit.”  And the people in this room don’t care who gets the credit.  We do care who gets the success and that’s all of you guys!  So keep on keeping on.

 

How many of you guys have gone through the drug rehabilitation programs? You know that there are millions of guys going through that stuff and you know all the guys who have gone through those programs and go right back to where they were! One day somebody is going to say: “Boy you know all this money that we are spending to recycle guys to the same judge, we can save some of that money by just adding to it the Transcendental Stress Management program.”  I bet you guys found, if you are doing the drug rehab, that the drug rehab program became more effective with the TSM technique added.  Didn’t it?

 

One day, the light bulb is going to go on and somebody is going to  figure that out.  When that happens, Farrokh, you’re going to have to do some serious teacher recruitment. And we judges will have a lot less work to do.  Thank God. Reduce the police forces because we will have great success for all.

 

I wonder if you guys know this?  The statistics say that, correct me if I am wrong, roughly 50% of people put on probation stay on probation.  This came from one of the Supreme Court judges studying the new sets of guidelines.  50% of the people who are placed on probation stay on the probation!  Sort of wild, isn’t it?

 

Judge Heagney is back there.  Judge Heagney is what I call the “quiet General”, the guy who sits in the back and yet does great things.  Was it 300 offenders or 200 offenders [he sent to TESP]?  You talk about a man who doesn’t care who gets the credit?  He doesn’t even want to sit up front but he is proud of everything that has been accomplished.   

 

Now, when I heard about this statistic, I walked up to Judge Heagney and said: “You know this is interesting.  50% of people on probation stay on probation.” Now I am going to talk about this. When you think about drug rehabilitation or criminal rehabilitation programs you think about what we called “recidivism”.  And recidivism studies usually say three years after a crime is committed is the cut-off time for your committing another crime.  

 

So I thought, let me see what Judge Heagney’s experience has been.  I asked the judge:  “How many times have you had somebody coming to you who had completed the TSM program that failed probation or they had some problem with them?  To date, I am not sure - two, maybe three.  That’s one percent!  How in heaven’s name could there be a program that is running a failure rate of less than 5% in a population of offenders that has a failure rate of 50%, and anybody who gives a darn, not pay attention to that program?

 

At very least, there should be sufficient funds to make this program available to all criminal offenders!

 

So, this is the program, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, that is accomplishing everything that I believed it would back in 1996, when these three TV reporters came to my chambers and said: “We heard that you are going to be using this Transcendental Meditation thing.  Why are you doing it?” And the cameras rolled, the lights came on just like that.  I looked the camera in the eye and I said, “because if I am going to be the kind of judge who is going to be tough and give people strong sentences and yank them off probation, if they violate my probation, then I better have enough compassion in me to do everything I can to make sure that I would never have to do that.”

 

And I still say that to this day.  The other thing that I said to those TV reporters who asked me why I wanted to use TSM when so many other things could be done for offenders, I told them: “I looked at the studies and I am convinced that there does not exist any other method of rehabilitation, short of psychotropic drugs, that will have the effect of helping these offenders cope with their stress and take control of their lives as much as transcendental stress management, and if there is such a method, then show me.  This is the State of Missouri, show me!”  Guess what? They ain’t shown me nothing yet! 

 

I have said that to every newspaper reporter, every TV reporter, every politician, every nay sayer, every critic out there, and all I hear is the deafening silence of no response.  And that silence is overcome by the letters I have received from you, from people in your lives, that reflect just what you heard here today -  letters that I have received,  some of them, Farrokh [looking to Farrokh Anklesaria], that you don’t even know about it - comments that I have heard walking through stores.

 

Many of my colleagues fear running into some of their ex-offenders on the street.  I walk into stores and this is what I get:  “Judge Mason, Judge Mason, remember me?  You put me on probation … I am doing good.  I am working.  And I do my TSM every day Judge.”

 

When you guys do that you have no idea how great it feels.  It’s really very much like when my six year old boy tells me about some accomplishment he has at school.  It just makes me realize that it’s all worth it.  I don’t care how much people want to criticize; it’s worth it.  And it will be something I will do so long as I wear the black robe because I know it’s going to make your lives better, make the lives of all those who have gone through this program better, and it’s making my job easier.

 

You know, one of my favorite moments is when those revocation docket sheets come out.  I know you’ve been there too, Judge Heagney.  I see those lists with the names of all those confined waiting for probation revocation hearings.  There are as many as 20 or 30 names assigned to each judge, whereas I have only one or two offenders come up for probation revocation hearings!  It makes my job easier.  You guys make my life easy.  So I want to thank you for that as well .  You make the city better, you are making it safer, you are giving me a better place to raise my boys.

 

So I want to thank you again for being yourselves.  And I wanted to give you a little bit of insight on why I do what I do, why Judge Autrey does what he does, why does Judge Russell does what he does, why Judge Heagney does what he does, why Judge Forder does what she does.  And there are even a couple of other judges who are taking a serious look at why we do what we do, because we are successful.  Because of your successes! 

 

There isn’t a lot that people can do in this world where they really get to say “we are willing to make a difference.”  Most of us at least are given a chance to make a difference by being parents.  I want to close with the words of this gospel song which ends with the line: “Lord pray that my living be not in vain.  If I can just help somebody, along life’s way, then my living will not be in vain.” world.  You guys have made my living not in vain!   Thank you." 

 

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