How It Works for an Ex-Con
“Approximately nine months after coming into this program and doing Steps One through Seven, I began working on my Eighth and Ninth Steps, and doing monetary and emotional amends. When I first came into the program, there were several warrants for my arrest. My sponsor took me around and we met with the judges responsible for holding me accountable. Eventually the warrants were dropped.
“In 1994, I was elected chair of the Area Correctional Committee and, with my sponsor’s encouragement, I accepted. Much to my consternation, I learned I could not be cleared to go inside the walls to carry our message of recovery because of my record. I worked with the committee for a year, when the doors of the county jails started opening to me. Later, I was accepted to carry our message inside state prisons, and I could see the promises (benefits of Steps Eight and Nine) beginning to work for me.
“In 1997, I applied for a clearance to a Federal Penitentiary, which meant filling out many forms, obtaining letters of recommendation from people in the community (church, local police department, business leaders, etc.). I heard nothing for about two years and figured that I was not wanted, when I received a phone call at work from a person with the U.S. Government. He wanted to speak to me about my past convictions, and then told me that I had been cleared to go inside with a Level II clearance—the same clearance as a prison staff member.
“More good news — I will be in Toronto for the 2005 International Convention, and have gone through the procedures that are necessary for people like me—those with felony convictions. On learning the procedures and fees necessary for me to attend the 2005 International, I could have become angry and resentful, but that’s not good for me or my A.A. program. I knew that long ago I’d made the choices that caused so much heartache throughout my life.