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News ::
diet and crime (english)
15 Nov 2002
the work of alexander schauss provides a possible clue to the cause of much urban crime. Here it is linked to IWAHIG
It was in India, as early as the 1950s, when the United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and the Treatment of Offenders gave international recognition to Iwahig, declaring it as the "first and most successful open penal institution in the world" and "the most advanced and unique type of institution in the world."

We have been trying to look for solutions to congestion. We need not look any further. The solution is right before our eyes: the Iwahig Solution. To borrow the expression of a renowned NGO leader, "We do not have to reinvent the wheel."

Nothing is, of course, perfect, and this holds true for Iwahig, that is, the Iwahig concept could stand improvements.

Among the concepts that could be added to the Iwahig Method are:

1. Behavioral Control through Nutritional Therapy

2 Self-Induced Reformation through the Ignatian Method


The bottom line in corrections is to transform the convict into a normal, responsible citizen.

Many correctional institutions have swanky buildings, state-of-the-art technology, so-called advanced educational systems, and sophisticated technical training. But their inmates, upon release, often go back to a life of crime. The millions spent for these benefits are meaningless if they fail to accomplish the goal of corrections: transforming the convict into a normal, responsible citizen.

This failure is due to a number of reasons. The effort exerted by correctional officials inside the institution often do not reflect the actual needs of life outside prison. Furthermore, reformation methods are often imposed on the convict, rather than making use of tried psychological techniques wherein the convict motivates himself to desire self-reform through his own decision - not the decision of prison authorities. Finally, correctional personnel often do not keep up with advances in other fields of knowledge and endeavor which could be applied to the needs of the correctional system.

Indeed, these are problems. But for every problem, there is a solution. And this is what this paper is all about.


Congestion constitutes the biggest reason for prison riots and the non-reformation of criminals.

Under the Iwahig-inspired concept, there is no overcrowding. The inmate is given a small farm, enough to support not just himself, but also his family. The family of the inmate is allowed to live with the latter in the settlement, so as to make the life of the prisoner remain as normal as possible.

Inmates who are allowed to settle with their families are, as a rule, happier and better behaved. The members of the family are a big help in the rehabilitation of the inmate and contribute much for his peace of mind. For one thing, he does not have to worry about what the wife may be doing, or what may be happening to the children. The arrangement helps maintain the closeness and intimacy of the family unit and helps preserve marital fidelity. It also helps prevent sexual abnormalities, such as sodomy.

The authorities help the families put up small native huts for housing. Some subsistence is given to the families to help them get started in agricultural work.

The inmates' children are allowed to go to school together with the children of the staff. Those of the same religion share the same chapel.

The Iwahig concept provides a more normal and wholesome atmosphere than closed institutions. Tension is mitigated. The inmates feel satisfied and are more sociable.

Unlike in closed institutions, the gang situation is not present in Iwahig. Brotherhood ties are weakened among gang members. The various gangs work in the same fields.

Incidentally, the prisoners are given the option to work in the prison shop established for skilled labor. But the emphasis is more on scientific agri-business because the latter ensures more stability, as will be explained later.

Ironically, many prisoners, after serving their terms, beg Iwahig prison authorities to allow them to stay on in Iwahig. That is how successful Iwahig has been. Compare this to the frequent jailbreaks in other institutions....

Apparently, these prisoners have found paradise within the boundaries of their institutionalized treatment, indeed a unique phenomenon.

This reminds us of the words of Frederick Langbridge, who wrote:

"Two men look out through the same bars;

One sees the mud, and one the stars."


The criteria for admission under the Iwahig concept are determined by the suitability of the inmate for this type of social rehabilitation. Common sense plays a key role in the evaluation of an inmate's suitability. Much will depend on the interview conducted by prison officers who have had occasion to deal with the inmates who are candidates for admission.

All offenders who are sentenced to 1 year and 1 day are eligible under the Iwahig concept, provided they do not belong to any of the following categories, to wit:

1. Multiple convictions;

2. Inclination to escape;

3. Subversives;

4. Offenses against chastity, such as rape;

5. Sex deviates.

A prisoner-candidate must have exhibited good conduct and served at least 1/5 of his sentence before he can avail of this type of treatment.


Inmates under the Iwahig concept are kept busy with wholesome work, in line with the motto of one of the most successful reformers of juvenile delinquents, John Bosco, who once stated, "An idle mind is the devil's workshop."

Under the Iwahig concept, there is no idleness. Every inmate has a special task. Iwahig gives special emphasis to agri-business. It has also room for non-agricultural pursuits, such as construction, other types of engineering work, handicrafts, cultural arts, institutional service and educational work (those who have sufficient academic background act as teachers and instructors).

Upon arrival in the Iwahig-type settlement, the inmates are given a one-month orientation wherein they are briefed on the type of work available and wherein the inmates are helped in choosing the type of work suited for them. Because of the differences in inclination, education and training, work is varied. Primarily, the inmates are assigned to work where they have had training and experience.

Secondly, where possible, the inmates are trained in other types of work, so that upon release, if they cannot be accommodated in one type of job, they would have bigger chances of being accommodated in other forms of work.

Under the Iwahig concept, efforts are made that the type of training meet the standards required in work outside. The work hours also approximate those outside, with no interruption, except in meritorious cases.

Although training in various types of work is practiced, the inmates are at the same time encouraged to remain in one type of work long enough to attain expertise, so that they can be competitive once they leave and seek jobs outside.

The Iwahig-type institution concentrates on goods and services that find a ready market.

Inmate labor is geared to be productive. For example, it would be counterproductive if inmates are made to shatter huge rocks just to tire them. This would be demoralizing. Inmates should see that their work is put to good use, that they are duly compensated and given adequate and relevant training - these things constitute a big morale booster. Remuneration increases inmate efficiency, enables them to support their families, and ensures some savings they could use upon release.

Compensation for inmates may not be the same as that given outside but is programmed to be substantial though to impress upon them that they are not being exploited.


Under the Iwahig concept, there is a minimum of physical precautions (such as walls, locks and guards). Discipline is relaxed but firm - there is no constant and close supervision. The inmates are encouraged to use, not abuse, their limited freedom.

The newly arrived inmates are considered medium-security prisoners. Good conduct would enable them to "graduate" to minimum-security. Repetitive troublemakers or those who attempt to escape are re-categorized to maximum-security, segregated in a barricaded compound and returned to the national penitentiary.


The neighborhood is adequately informed of the aims and methods of the project so as to dispel unfounded fears and ensure the cooperation and support of the community. The neighborhood realizes that the inmates in Iwahig are not the dangerous type.


The staff members are selected based on their ability to look after the needs of others and on their capacity to give good moral influence. Iwahig does not accept personnel who have been assigned to corrections as a form of punishment. Such persons cannot give good moral influence to the inmates since they themselves need "reformation." As the saying goes: "Nothing comes from nothing.h

It is a dangerous error to assign a scalawag or misfit policeman to care for inmates.

The number of inmates should be such that the staff would have occasion to be familiar with the personal circumstances of each.


Alexander Schauss and Barbara Griggs have come up with scientific findings showing a direct link between diet and the propensity for crime. Even grave crimes, such as assault, rape and robbery, are influenced by diet.

Schauss' findings are contained in two volumes, namely: "Diet, Crime and Delinquency" and "Nutrition and Behavior." On the other hand, Grigg's findings have been published in "The Food Factor: Why We Are What We Eat." The magazine "Health and Home" has also featured these findings.

Schauss was a probation officer who evaluated remand centers for juvenile delinquents in South Dakota. He discovered the direct relationship between diet and criminal behavior in one of these remand centers. The "house parents" of this particular remand center had invited him for lunch. They explained to Schauss their philosophy behind the diet of inmates.

The inmates were fed only natural foods grown right in their own gardens. The surplus from the harvest was frozen and stored for the winter. The house parents, as a rule, did not serve fizzy drinks such as colas, coffee, tea and almost no sugar. The bread and cereal were made from whole wheat grain - not from bleached, refined flour.

At first, Schauss was skeptical and considered the house parents as mere faddists. However, he did check out later the records of the remand center. He learned that quite a number of the worst cases in South Dakota were assigned to this remand center. Unbelievably, many of the juvenile delinquents were ready for discharge after only three months. Nobody stayed longer than six months.

After this, Schauss deliberately sent to this remand center the most incorrigible juvenile delinquents. If these delinquents were sent elsewhere, they would be given the standard psychiatric counselling and would remain in custody at least for two years. In the remand center to which he sent them, they could be out in six months.

Schauss then took a crash course in nutrition and biochemistry and later tested the diet therapy on dozens of probation cases. It worked in most cases. After the publication of his research, interest spread throughout USA. Similar experiments were replicated in other schools and remand centers. The results were basically the same - when junk food was junked in favor of nutritious, balanced diet. Teachers reported quieter classrooms and better attention, while house parents in remand centers reported that violence had been drastically reduced.

Research pieces were replicated on thousands more. The results were the same - over and over again. A typical research piece is that from a remand center in Virginia: it reported that trouble had gone down by 80%.

The Schauss' findings were implemented on a wide scale only after it was discovered that a healthy diet was cheaper to finance than junk food diet. Many big city education authorities finally adopted the Schauss diet. Wherever this was adopted, delinquency dramatically went down.

Another researcher, Schoenthaler, decided to apply the diet therapy to 17,000 juvenile delinquents in Los Angeles. Bad behavior fell by half. Furthermore, other improvements were observed, especially in classroom performance.

New York has adopted the new diet program for their schools. The results were impressive. In prior years, the average rating in New York schools was 11% below the national average. After the adoption of the diet therapy, the academic performance of the students rose to 5 points above the national average.

Relatedly, Gwilyn Roberts, a senior science master in North Wales, conducted a research on the connection between diet and intelligence in his school. One hundred children, with the consent and cooperation of the parents, wrote what they ate each day. These were then forwarded to the Institute of Optimum Nutrition in London for analysis by computers. The Institute found out that the meals lacked ten basic nutrients. The missing vitamins and minerals were involved in enzymes that were absolutely essential for optimum brain function.

School authorities allowed Roberts to test the theory in a scientific way. At the beginning of an academic year, the second year students were given a range of IQ tests. Secretly, a vitamin manufacturer was hired to make a pill with all the necessary vitamins and minerals and an identical pill that had no nutritive value.

Doctor David Benton of the Department of Psychology, University College Swansea, exercised supervision over the experiment. The second year students were divided into two categories. One group was fed the genuine pill, while the other was given the fake pill. Only Doctor Benton knew which group took which pill. Every day 6 children took the pills, 3 genuine, 3 fake. For added precision, Dr. Benton arranged things so that the children were comparable in age, sex, social class and ability.

Dr. Benton was skeptical and could not believe that behavior and ability were influenced by diet. After 9 months had elapsed, IQ tests were again given to the children. In the non-verbal IQ tests, the children who took the genuine pill soared to a staggering 9 IQ points, while the control group which took the fake pill experienced no change. The vast difference was self-evident.

In a way, this phenomenon was known to the ancients. The Italians have a saying for this, "Buona cucina, buona disciplina" - "Good food means good discipline." The ancient Latins put it this way: "Mens sana in corpore sano" - "A sound mind in a sound body." In fact, perceptive parents know that if they give too much chocolate regularly to a child, the latter will become hyperactive. The scientific experiments merely corroborated what had been known through tradition and the experience of many families the world over.


As earlier mentioned, the bottom line in corrections is to transform the prisoner into a normal and responsible citizen.

Inmates often return to their old ways because of the lack of inner conversion. Inner conversion involves a personal desire for what is right; it is not imposed by higher authorities. The good is freely and enthusiastically desired by the individual, because of the benefits he sees. This is where the spiritual factor comes in.

A key to all these is the Ignatian Method. Its effectiveness has been proven through the centuries. Although the method was formulated by Ignatius of Loyola, the soldier-founder of the Jesuits, which is a Roman Catholic international organization, it has been adopted by Protestants and can be adopted by Muslims, etc. It can be adopted by other religions by just making some changes - after all, the process is more of psychology than religion.

Dr. Schleich, a Protestant, professor of the Faculty of Medicine at Berlin, emphatically asserts:

"I say with all assurance and conviction that with these norms and exercises in our hands we could even today transform our asylums, prisons and mental institutions, and prevent the commitment to them of two thirds of the people today within their walls."

The internationally known Spanish Jesuit psychologist, Narciso Irala, offers the following observations:

1. The Protestant Dr. Vittoz had a great admiration for Ignatius of Loyola. He believed that Loyola was three centuries ahead of his time in the fine introspection and effective pedagogy he used.

2. The purpose of Ignatius is to make a man perfect. He therefore proceeds according to the most sublime laws of our higher mental activity without allowing the lower levels of activity or disordered feelings to disturb this process.

3. Ignatius writes:

g... just as walking and running are bodily exercises, so also any method of preparing and disposing the soul to remove from itself all disordered affections (feelings and impulses) and then to seek and find the divine will in arranging one's life with a view to the soul's salvation, these are called spiritual exercises."

4. The exercises propose motives which are most strong and noble in themselves and which are reinforced by the feeling of love for God, or Allah, or Yahweh. These motives are to be subjectively felt and adopted by the exercitant.

5. When his higher mental activity has been so directed that passions to not deroute it, then come meditations preparatory to the choice of a way of life.

6. And then come decisions about concrete details of the future way of life.

7. The executive power of the will has a very efficient instrument in the "particular examen" (examination of conscience). This is truly a control and stimulus to the will. The particular examen makes us perform true will acts by making them concrete, focusing on one virtue at a time, or one vice at a time, and in a determined place and time.

8. It makes us feel their possibility and facility by limiting the expenditure of energy and vigilance to a half day at a time (this examination of conscience is done three times a day, morning, noon and evening).

9. Finally, it makes us renew our decision three times a day, and strengthen it by comparison of one examen with another, with contrition when we fail and with love of God or Allah or Yahweh, etc.

10. It is a spiritual treatment which is most efficacious for curing moral illnesses.


They have allotted 100 hectares in a place called Antipolo, near Metro Manila, for an improved version of Iwahig, incorporating behavioral control through nutritional therapy and self-induced reformation through the Ignatian Method. This will be operational next year.

Psychologists point out that thoughts are the limits of one's activities. If one thinks that he cannot do a certain thing, then he can never do it. As the ancient citizens of Imperial Rome used to say, "They can because they think they can."
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