Zen in the Pen Shaky Legs ?

Is it a stretch for taxpayers to fund yoga classes for jail inmates?

That's the question in New Mexico, where officials are considering budget cuts that might leave prisoners without a leg to balance on.

Yoga, tae bo, tai chi and art therapy classes are on the chopping block at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Albuquerque, where deputy county manager of public safety Tom Swisstack plans to make some cuts.

Officials in New Mexico might cut a taxpayer-funded yoga program at a detention center in Albuquerque.

"I imagine in the next 60 days, you're not going to see all of these programs necessarily in place," Swisstack told KOAT.

That said, Swisstack isn't necessarily eager to pull the plug on all of the chi-harnessing classes.

"Those are the kinds of things that sound like they're touchy feely, but those are also the kinds of things that have helped in some cases, quite honestly in many cases, break the barriers that treatment could actually then start," Swisstack added.

"Some of those programs work for people."

New Mexico isn't the only place where detainees have access to yoga classes.

Yoga programs already exist in prisons and jails everywhere from Illinois to India -- where inmates who complete yoga classes are reportedly rewarded with shortened sentences.

Though the classes might get cut in New Mexico, groups like the Prison Yoga Project and Jailhouse Yoga hope they can spread to discipline to other houses of detention.

Proponents of bringing yoga to prisons say yoga classes can provide much-needed motivation for inmates.

"I believe that prisoners can benefit from yoga because it is a practice which helps to foster understanding, self-acceptance, peace and well-being," wrote University of Leicester researcher Rose Parkes, according to Science Daily.

"If prisoners are better equipped to deal with their emotions, particularly fear and anger, then, I believe, they are less likely to harm themselves or others," said Parkes, a former probation officer and yoga instructor. "This can only be of long-term benefit to society."

More Zen in the Pen Shaky Legs ?

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