Information about what A.A. is and can do and how groups function in a correctional facility.
Message to Corrections Professionals
What corrections professionals may want to know about A.A.
Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women whose primary purpose is to stay sober and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. A.A. work is done by A.A. members on a voluntary basis.
A.A. has no central authority and almost no structural organization. A.A. does operate a General Service Office in New York (which acts mostly as a clearinghouse for information, worldwide) and local central or intergroup offices
Corrections professionals, A.A. members, and inmates themselves interested in starting a new A.A. group for inmates will get help from A.A.’s General Service Office. G.S.O. will provide the pamphlet “A.A. in Correctional Facilities,” a Group Handbook and other A.A. literature.
Many local A.A. service committees will, upon request, provide informational presentations for your organization. Sessions can be tailored to meet your needs. A typical agenda might include one or several A.A. films and a presentation by one or more A.A. members on “What A.A. Is and What It Is Not.”
Please check your local telephone listing or newspapers for the number of Alcoholics Anonymous.
A.A. wants to work with you
Cooperation with the professional community is an objective of A.A., and has been since our beginnings. We are always seeking to strengthen and expand our communication with you, and we welcome your comments and suggestions. They help us to work more effectively with you in achieving our common purpose: to help the alcoholic who still suffers.
A.A. in correctional facilities
There are approximately 1,487 A.A. groups meeting in
correctional facilities throughout the United States and Canada. Each has a local arrangement between the administrators of the prison, work farm or jail and nearby A.A. groups.
A frequent question is why inmates have any need of A.A. while they are incarcerated. The answer is that the A.A. program is far more than staying away from alcohol. A.A. has been called a way of life, and its success for groups that meet while in custody shows that this program can help the alcoholic inmate live a sober and contented life, both while in custody and after release.
Many inmates were sentenced for crimes in which alcohol abuse was an important factor. This percentage appears to be somewhat higher among inmates in facilities for young offenders.
Corrections professionals often find many benefits for those inmates who attend A.A. meetings, and feel that an inmate’s chance of making it on the outside is improved by participation in the A.A. program.
The conditions under which an inmate group functions are established by the administration. These regulations are inviolable for A.A. visitors as well as for inmates. Since regulations can and do vary, A.A. members will need to be specifically informed about the rules/regulations of each facility they will enter. To that end, good communication between corrections administrators and local A.A. committees is essential.
Typically, local A.A. members sponsor groups in co-rrectional facilities and work with personnel designated by administrators, as well as with officers of the “inside” A.A. group.
Once an inmate group gets through its early stages, it is very much like other A.A. groups. Except for scheduled visits from the A.A. sponsor and A.A. speakers from outside, there need be no extra “traffic” in the operation of an inmate A.A. group.
Re-entry and parole
Experience shows that when inmate A.A. members go promptly to A.A. on the outside, they are likely to stay sober—and free. However, if they put it off until they “get settled,” they may never get to A.A.
A.A. can help minimize this risk. Before inmate A.A. members are actually released, there is usually time to get in touch with A.A. in the city or town where they plan to live. The inside sponsor and A.A. contacts can almost always make sure that a real welcome awaits newly-free people—not as former inmates, but as fellow members of A.A.
What A.A. does NOT do
A.A. does not: Furnish initial motivation for alcoholics to recover; solicit members; engage in or sponsor research; keep attendance records or case histories; join “councils” of social agencies (although A.A. members, groups and service offices frequently cooperate with them); follow up or try to control its members; make medical or psychological diagnoses or prognoses; provide detox, rehabilitation or nursing services, hospitalization, drugs, or any medical or psychiatric treatment; offer religious services or host/sponsor retreats; engage in education about alcohol; provide housing, food, clothing, jobs, money or any other welfare or social services; provide domestic or vocational counseling; accept any money for its services or any contributions from non-A.A. sources; provide letters of reference to parole boards, lawyers, court officials, social agencies, employers, etc.
Singleness of purpose and problems other than alcohol
Some professionals refer to alcoholism and drug addiction as “substance abuse” or “chemical dependency.” Nonalcoholics are, therefore, sometimes introduced to A.A. and encouraged to attend A.A. meetings. Nonalcoholics may attend open A.A. meetings as observers, but only those with a drinking problem may attend closed A.A. meetings.
Some pamphlets which may be of interest
THIS IS A.A.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT A.A.
IS A.A. FOR YOU?
YOUNG PEOPLE AND A.A.
A.A. FOR THE WOMAN
THE A.A. MEMBER-MEDICATIONS AND OTHER DRUGS
DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DIFFERENT?
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON SPONSORSHIP
IS THERE AN ALCOHOLIC IN YOUR LIFE?
PROBLEMS OTHER THAN ALCOHOL
WHAT HAPPENED TO JOE
IT HAPPENED TO ALICE
IF YOU ARE A PROFESSIONAL
HOW A.A. MEMBERS COOPERATE
A.A. IN YOUR COMMUNITY
A MEMBER’S-EYE VIEW OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS
A.A. GRAPEVINE (monthly)
LA VIÑA (bimonthly)
This is A.A. General Service Conference-approved literature
Copyright © 1988 by A.A. World Services, Inc.
P.O. Box 459
Grand Central Station
New York, NY 10163
P-20 3 /16