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Clinical Trial
. Oct-Dec 1998;30(4):419-26.
doi: 10.1080/02791072.1998.10399715.

Dr. Leary's Concord Prison Experiment: A 34-year Follow-Up Study

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Clinical Trial

Dr. Leary's Concord Prison Experiment: A 34-year Follow-Up Study

R Doblin. J Psychoactive Drugs. .

Abstract

This study is a long-term follow-up to the Concord Prison Experiment, one of the best-known studies in the psychedelic psychotherapy literature. The Concord Prison Experiment was conducted from 1961 to 1963 by a team of researchers at Harvard University under the direction of Timothy Leary. The original study involved the administration of psilocybin-assisted group psychotherapy to 32 prisoners in an effort to reduce recidivism rates. This follow-up study involved a search through the state and federal criminal justice system records of 21 of the original 32 subjects, as well as personal interviews with two of the subjects and three of the researchers: Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner and Gunther Weil. The results of the follow-up study indicate that published claims of a treatment effect were erroneous. This follow-up study supports the emphasis in the original reports on the necessity of embedding psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy with inmates within a comprehensive treatment plan that includes post-release, nondrug group support programs. Despite substantial efforts by the experimental team to provide post-release support, these services were not made sufficiently available to the subjects in this study. Whether a new program of psilocybin-assisted group psychotherapy and post-release programs would significantly reduce recidivism rates is an empirical question that deserves to be addressed within the context of a new experiment.

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