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Prison SMART has achieved remarkable success in Denmark. More than 2.000 prisoners and ex-prisoners have followed the training since the year 2000. Prisons which organize Prison SMART include Nyborg State Prison, Herstedvester Prison and Uridslose State Prison. In the State Prison of Horserod around 500 inmates have participated in Prison SMART through the 8 courses that it organises each year since 2001. Apart from prisoners and ex-prisoners, the trainings are also conducted with drug addicts, juvenile delinquents, therapists, social workers, prison staff and private clients.

The efficiency of the courses is recognised by many official institutions and organisations in Denmark, which have experienced that Prison / Breathe SMART works complementary to their own efforts. Since 2008, Prison SMART has been part of the special program under the Danish Prison and Probation Service for trial release. Participation in the Prison / Breathe SMART program is sometimes one of the conditions to be fulfilled for conditional release of convicts instead of serving a prison sentence. Cooperation is also established with institutions of the criminal judicial care system for youth, such as Engelsborg, and with the Probation Department for Community Service. The city of Copenhagen occasionally finances the Breathe SMART courses for people who want to drop out of drug abuse. The Prison and Probation Department of the Ministry of Justice has financially supported the Breathe SMART program for ex-prisoners.

One of the driving forces behind the Prison / Breathe SMART program in Denmark is Jakob Lund, who has a personal experience of drugs and violence. Jacob dedicates his life to helping some of the world’s toughest criminals for whom violence has become their whole identity as well as their strategy in order to obtain respect and acknowledgement. “One of the big problems is that when you put people in prison, they come out even angrier. I personally don’t care whether they have killed somebody or have stolen a bike. I focus on their potential – not on what they did, but on what they do,” he says.

Many participants continue of their own free will to follow the courses Jakob and his team give a couple of times per week in Copenhagen, where sometimes up to 80 people gather. The training has become very popular in the criminal circles in Copenhagen. Some of the ex-prisoners have also become Prison / Breathe SMART trainers themselves and set up social awareness and prevention campaigns on drugs and crime. Many participants have stopped taking drugs and have gone off anti-depressors after following the Prison/Breathe SMART program. Ex-prisoners find a place where they can come home and where they are accepted with their past experience. It is an important assurance for them to know that they can always come in case of need. They can build up a new social network, so that they do not have to return to old friends with destructive influences, and work on finding a job in cooperation with other agencies.


First Prison SMART course: 2000

Number of prisoners trained: 1.500

Number of Breathe SMART participants: 4.000

Number of staff trained: 500

Prisons where Prison SMART was held:

Horserød prison

Nyborg prison

Vridsløselille prison

Herstedvester prison

+a long list of stakeholders 

CONTACT: Jakob Lund

[email protected]


“Before I took the course I was always thinking of the past or the future and of all the things I was not in control of. Now – when I get sad – I turn my focus inward, breathe in deeply a couple of times and start the breathing exercices. I have found a tremendous peace inside.” (Reno)

“In the beginning I had reservations about the course, but it’s great. Earlier I only felt so calm after smoking hashish. Since I followed Jakob’s course I haven’t smoked hashish. I also haven’t been having a fight with anyone for two weeks. I now dare to look at things I was too afraid to have a look at before. I do the exercices every evening before bedtime in order to get rid of my aggressiveness and feel calm. It works wonders.” (Christian, 26)

Interview with inmate Dan, 23, in Horserød State Prison (Denmark)
– In what way has the course changed you as a person?
I now have some tools to relax more. I have a higher self esteem. And therefore it has become easier to choose not to smoke pot.
– Do you behave differently in conflict situations?
Recently I was going to be released conditionally. But only 17 days before my cell was checked for stolen goods and they found some. That means that I will now be released 6 months later. Normally I would run amok and destroy everything. When you are about to be released and then in the end you don’t, your whole world breaks down. At that point it helped me a lot to meditate. So even though it was a nasty situation I felt ok anyway.
– Will it also help you when you get out of prison?
I think it will. And I know that I will continue to follow the courses at Jakob’s place twice per week.
– What’s the most difficult part of the course?
Many of us inmates have had a tough life and our feelings have been stoved away. It can be hard to meet those feelings again.

Interview with inmate Sebastian, 32.
– In what way has the course changed you as a person?
– I have become calmer and I think more clearly. I live more in the present moment after having meditated. It has also helped me to stop smoking pot. Even though others start again, I don’t.

– Do you behave differently in conflict situations?
– I think more about the consequenses of my actions. While I was smoking pot I didn’t care, but now I don’t smoke anymore.

– Will it also help you when you get out of prion?
– Of course. I am determined not be put in prison again. The exercices give me something else to do, instead of what I was doing before I got to prison.

– What’s the most difficult part of the course?
– To have to look at yourself and our feelings. It requires that you really want to try something new.

“My first reaction was “no way!!”I’m not going to sit there and meditate. But I really feel that it helps. I am calmer inside and take things easier. That feels good.” (Ronnie, 24)


Ina Eliasen, Head of Unit, Directorate for Prison Service – Unit for the Execution of Sentences, Denmark (reporting the experiences of her staff members)

“The course opened my eyes to the fact that meditation is highly efficient and helps you to get rid of stress and it gives you more energy, not only during meditation but all around the clock.”

“This course made me give up all my prejudices about meditation and about what meditation, breathing and yoga can do for you.”

Bente Larsen, Deputy Superintendent, Engelsborg

“Common for all of them [prisoners and ex-prisoners], is that meeting Jakob Lund as a person and Breathe SMART as a concept has been an enriching experience for all and also a personal developmental experience for most of them. It is the experience of Engelsborg that the residents have found their own resources.”

Jorgen Maltesen, Project Leader (alcohol and drug addicts), Alfa-Fredensborg

“The open mind of the Prison/Breathe SMART team and their way of being have made it much easier for the residents and the staff members to receive this new offer. It has been easier for several of the residents to receive the therapeutic treatments after they have participated in the Breathe SMART courses.”

Lene Moller-Nielsen, Prison Inspector, State Prison of Horserod

“Since 2004 we have continuously offered the Breathe Smart courses to our inmates and about 8 five-day courses take place per year. Our experience is that inmates who take Jakob’s Breathe Smart Course and remain in contact with him after the course reduce their consumption of drugs considerably, and many times they get totally out of drugs abuse. These courses are quite popular among the inmates, so we do not need to motivate them to participate, whereas they are reluctant to follow other kind of courses we offer. Some inmates who have stayed in contact with Jakob over a longer period manage to break the pattern of crime and get into education or labour market. The courses are also popular among staff members. They learn to handle the aggressiveness of the inmates in a constructive way.”

Lene Skov, Probation Department for Community Service

“We would be very sad if we would no longer have the option of sending our clients to the Prison / Breathe SMART program.”

Susanne Ludvigsen, psychotherapist, AIDA

Christian Solholt, Project Leader (Hash and Cocaine Project Copenhagen)

Research Studies

Research Studies, such as Professor Ross Deuchar recommending insights from Prison SMART and Breathe SMART in Denmark to be significant in future policy:


Sunday Herald Article


Here you can find video interviews and reports: