Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Wheels of Justice Go Round and Round

I spent quite a bit of time this week finishing up the requirements for prison work. It didn't all go well, but I won't belabor the details. I'll just say that after driving the 100-miles round trip to the state prison three times since Saturday's orientation, I'm not finished, thanks to an equipment malfunction. But all that's left is my photo. As of Thursday, the chaplain was still waiting for the results of my drug test to be forwarded to them and the fingerprint clearance from the FBI.

Today I attended a potluck hosted by the Al-Anon prison coordinator, and got to meet many of the other Al-Anon volunteers. I knew several of them from meetings I attend. It was the first time I got a really good idea about what going out to the prison was going to be like. Some of the volunteers had been going into the prison for years, and everyone there said they got a lot out of it. So now that I've gotten through all the red tape, I'm looking forward to being of service.

But it won't be for a while. I probably won't know what unit I'm assigned to until the end of February. I first expressed interest in the program before Thanksgiving. One lesson I'm learning is that the wheels of justice move very, very slowly.

But listening to the discussion today, I did learn some things I didn't know. For example, the prisoners have to earn their seat at an Al-Anon meeting. It's considered a privilege. And they have to attend six meetings before they get a donated book of daily meditations. Some women try to scam additional copies. To me that said these books mean something to them.

I couldn't help but think of how for me Al-Anon is given freely. I may have had to "earn my seat" in one sense. But all I need to do is to show up to get the help I need. The next time the thought crosses my mind that I'm too tired to get to a meeting or too busy to do my morning reading, I'm going to remind myself of the women who would love to be in my place.


  1. Very good. Things are proceeding in their own timing and you are accepting it isn't immediate. Sounds like this will be a blessing for the inmates as well as the volunteers.

  2. What a great service you are giving back..

    I think they need especially A.C.O.A in prison.. Adult Children of An-ANON .. books such as from Survivor to Recovery..

    Maybe a lot of them got involved with the undesirable from growing up in such homes?? .. marrying such men??

    This is so great you are doing this..

    I hope you update us.. (hugs)

  3. It's sort of comforting that this has been a long process for you. Our prisons are secure. I'm looking forward to reading what you learn from this. Hope you touch a life.

  4. This is an awesome calling - and you definitely did answer this call. I'm proud just to know you through blogland.
    I drive an hour to my CoDA meetings, twice a week, each way. It's worth it to me. The meetings and the people I know through them, my sponsor and friends, have become like a second family to me.
    There are so many people out there who look downt their noses at 12 step programs with out even trying them - I personally know people who are miserable in their lives but would never think to attend a meeting.
    It took me six months to go to a meeting after my therapist first mentioned it, so I do understand the reluctance.

    A man at my Friday night meeting said "this stuff should be required work in grade school - and I agree. If more people knew how much good it really does... well, it would be a better world.

    Thank you for your kind words on my blog.

  5. Kathy, sounds very promising with a good outcome. Been a long time. Proud of you. Thank you for sharing!

  6. Kathy,
    I agree with Shen......12 step meeting have changed my life. God used them to help me become real. My first mentor was in al anon for over 25 years. I know God is going to use you to touch so many. Thanks for all your prayers my friend.


  7. Having gotten schooled in the prison system first hand (or maybe that is second hand), I know it is a revelation to most people how it works. Many are surprised to find there are hundreds of thousands who committed non violent crimes that are the direct result of addiction/alcoholism. These are not dangerous, low life. They are our fathers, sisters, children. I shudder when I hear "throw the book at them". There are people who need to be locked away, they are more that need intensive, long term treatment.

    If you touch the heart one person in prison Kathy, you have been successful. You make me proud to be a part of this fellowship.

  8. I have been following your process and am encouraged by your work.

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  10. [too many typos in my first comment...LOL] Hi Kathy, It's so nice to meet you. It was wonderful of you to visit. Yes, yes...I know what you mean when you wrote in your profile, alcoholism affects not on the drinkers but the friends and family...and jobs. My SIL's problem made us all attend. And, I think my daughter is continuing to attend these even after the divorce.

    It's sad.

    Congrats on becoming a grandmother!! It's a life privilege I think. I'm a grannie to two.

    Come visit any time. I'd love to have your company.

  11. Hi Kathy,
    Thanks for leaving your comment on my blog. Just dropped by to "check you out" and I'm REALLY glad I did! Thinking to volunteer at a prison is certainly not something most people would do - it takes true strength of character, and a determination to focus on the Light within. Can't wait to read about your adventures!

  12. What you are doing is just so inspiring!!