Service in Corrections – John E_LifelineOct2016

Early in my sobriety, my sponsor was constantly encouraging me to volunteer for every little thing that came up, so when they were looking for AA volunteers for prison, I felt that familiar elbow in my ribs. I knew where I was headed and I soon found myself at the Fred House training center at the Utah State Prison for an indoctrination class. It didn’t look too bad.  After waiting for months without a response to my application, I called, only to learn that I had been denied because I had a relative, unknown to me, in the area I would be going into and that was not allowed. After three or four more attempts, I decided to forget it. Nineteen years later, after I got one of my sponsees involved in service, he wondered why I was not going into the prison, as well. I explained the problem and he suggested I try again. How’s that? The sponsee is telling the sponsor what to do. Ok. I’ll do it! Amazingly, it went right through and I was soon walking through the gates of the Lone Peak Facility for my first prison meeting. One of the inmates there had written to World Services and had the Life Elevated Group recognized as an official AA meeting. That first meeting quickly fueled my passion and I accepted the responsibility for the Sunday night meetings. Some nights there were only two of us, but on others, there were up to 16 men. It is never the same, but everyone always has a chance to share. I have been fortunate to take some of these men to their first meetings after being released, and have also seen them accept additional chips for years of sobriety.

Unfortunately, as we know, some people just can’t seem to get it, and I have seen some back behind the fence shortly after being released. Perhaps next time will be different!

After three years, due to a dwindling population and budget cuts, the Lone Peak Facility and other small sections are being shuttered. Most inmates will move to the Wasatch Facility, others to the Gunnison Prison and some to local jails or halfway houses. I have been assured that once everyone has been transferred, we can resume our Sunday meetings at Wasatch. Not soon enough! These people think we go out there just for them, but these meetings have certainly helped to keep me sober. Thanks for the opportunity to serve.

–John E.


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