Here’s an example of a letter written to the GSO using the Traditions as Sieve – to sift out the issues, using our principles. My sponsor helped me write the letter, and a friend of mine and I read this Sieve together and upon reading it, had a spiritual experience regarding how to take ANY ISSUE through the Traditions. Try it!
My sponsor had told me that the Traditions are a Sieve – that you push the issue through them 1 after the other to sift out the violations and issues. It works!
As per this email from the XXXX Corrections Chair below, It has come to my attention that Area X Corrections Committee has decided to follow XXXX Law by asking our members to take the Volunteer Class at the Department of Corrections and thereby sign an agreement which makes us, in his words an extension, of the prison staff –
“Also, when you volunteer you are required to sign the code of conduct agreement that is the exact same for volunteers as it is for employees.
So the short answer is yes there are certain types of information that must be reported for the safety of the offenders, staff and volunteers, and as volunteers we are extensions of the staff. During one’s training this is discussed so there is understanding of how to create the proper boundaries between offenders and volunteers, but generally if sharing is kept to general experience, especially with Alcoholism and recovery, then no one gets put into compromising positions.”
I would like hear from you all at the General Service Office – if you know of any other resolutions to this situation which might protect our Traditions. As I see it – so many of our Traditions are being violated by this type of action:
By “being extensions of the prison staff” and following their Mandatory Reporting Laws, we are asking the members of AA who go into the prison to conform to XXXX State Law instead of our own traditions and we are suggesting that the prisoners practice conformity by not telling the truth in our meetings in prison in case they incriminate them themselves – in this event we are affiliating with the prison – by doing their work for them and not being trustworthy members of Alcoholics Anonymous.
We are also violating Tradition Four:
With respect to our own affairs – (a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous in the Prison) we are to be responsible to no other authority than our own conscience – NOT the prison system – and these plans will concern the welfare of neighboring groups because when the prisoners get out of jail they won’t necessarily trust us and may not go to AA groups – and we won’t have learned to be trustworthy nor to stand up for our principles – we will think that there are certain things that need to be reported and that there is a higher authority than the group conscience and God – this will effect AA as a whole and already has …
– Tradition Four goes on to say that no regional committee should ever take any action that might greatly affect A.A. as a whole without conferring with the trustees of the General Service Board. On such issues our common welfare is paramount.
Has our regional committee discussed this issue with the Trustees of the General Service Board? Because just deciding to sign this document does effect AA as a whole – it affiliates us with the prison system making us extensions of the prison staff.
We are supposedly a spiritual entity – as it states in Tradition Five – we are a spiritual entity with ONE primary purpose – to carry IT’s message to the alcoholic who still suffers – NOT to tattle on prisoners to the prison authorities. They have cameras in every room anyway – they are just getting us to do their jobs for them.
Then we go on to violate Tradition six:
Problems of authority easily divert us from our primary spiritual aim. While an A.A. group may cooperate with anyone, such cooperation ought never to go so far as affiliation or endorsement, actual or implied. An A.A. group can bind itself to no one.
By Mandatory Reporting and signing these sorts of contracts we are implying affiliation and binding ourselves to the prison system. Let’s say someone does not report and then something happens – by signing this agreement we have put AA’s name in jeopardy.
And finally, we violate Tradition Twelve; the principle of Anonymity. How can we possibly say that we are going to tell the Prison something that goes on in one of our meetings and still call ourselves Anonymous???
In addition, Tradition Twelve states that we are to place principles before personalities – Bill W has stated that this means we place principles before OUR personal gain – that means that we place our Traditions before whether or not the Prisons like us or not. In addition – we must honor the anonymity of the prisoners – if we really think we are going to help them –
Are we close-mouthed friends or not?
So, our request to you is this:
- Do you think that we are violating too many Traditions by following the Department of Corrections “rules” and “laws”? – Do you think we are affiliating with the prisons rather than cooperating? Do you think this might affect AA as a whole?
- Do you have any recommendations on how to handle this situation?
- Do you have any recommendations on how to convince the Area Committee to take a look at this situation and resolve it?
I know for a personal fact that the West Central Region talked to the Warden in Sheridan, and abstained from taking AA into the prison for a year- and the Warden finally gave in and allowed us to follow our Traditions.