Archive for the The Traditions Category

Ben A. Reid

Ben A. Reid is a halfway house that seems to be having a little retention problem:

Timothy Rosales Jr.: Yet Another Escapee from a Houston Halfway House

Timothy Rosales Jr. is the first rapist of 2011 to escape from the privately run Ben Reid halfway house, and the second to escape in a little over a month.

The 39-year-old sex offender fled from the Beaumont Highway facility around 6:15 Monday night, according to the Department of Public Safety. He’s considered armed and dangerous. And, like Arthur William Brown, the rapist who escaped in late December, he was able to remove his electronic monitoring ankle bracelet.

We wrote about the unsecured Reid facility, and its parent company, the Florida-based GEO Group, in December. Two months before the story ran, Anthony Ray Ferrell escaped from Reid and allegedly shot and killed a 24-year-old good samaritan who intervened in a gas station purse-snatching. Another rapist split the Reid facility a few weeks before Ferrell slipped out.

Although the place is like a freaking sieve, there is nothing in
GEO’s contract with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice about a
maximum number of vicious sexual predators that can be let loose on the
public in a given amount of time. And once these monsters step off the
Reid premises, they’re no longer GEO’s problem: It is up to actual
real-life law enforcement officers to apprehend the escapees. All GEO
personnel need to do is pick up the phone and make a few calls once they
realize an offender hasn’t returned on time.

I was curious (rather, wanted to confirm my suspicions) about what this place has to offer, so I found their brochure posted online and see that they provide something called Therapeutic Relapse Assistance Program (nice acronym, dumdums). But if you do a search on that “program,” what appears at the top of the search list is… the same brochure, and there is no other reference to this program. Scroll down the brochure, though, and you’ll find this:

Key Services
The following voluntary programs and services help
prepare residents to return to their local communities
and provide for their well being while at the facility.

  • Substance abuse and addiction counseling services
    are provided through Alcoholics Anonymous and
    Narcotics Anonymous.

“Services provided through…”? Really!?! Really. [Channeling Amy Poehler here!]

Maybe they’re having such a hard time keeping people in their facility because they’re using AA’s definitions of retention and recovery. Is this when Recovery Landlords patiently explain “We’re not affiliated with them; they’re affiliated with us.”

BONUS QUESTION: Why do they call people who rape “rapists”? The “ist” at the end makes it sound like some kind of a skill or art. Why not “raper”?

Prosecutor Talks 12-Step Sentencing

Last night, criminal prosecutor, maozedong,  posted an interesting comment offering insight into the courts’ practice of sentencing people to 12-Step programs. I didn’t want anyone to miss this, so  I’m reposting it here. Thank you, maozedong. — ftg

At the risk of drawing some ire, I will disclose that I’m a criminal prosecutor; threads like these are getting my attention as I’d never given much thought to issues related to criminals in AA.

How prosecutors and judges handle sentencing varies from state to state and county to county. In my county, first time DWI (aka DUI) offenders are not generally required to attend AA meetings as a condition of probation. There’s this perception out there that anyone who gets a DWI must have a drinking problem, but my experience has been that this is not the case. In the case of someone with multiple DWIs, AA attendance is usually imposed as a part of the standard plea deal. Continue reading Prosecutor Talks 12-Step Sentencing

AA and The Treatment Industry

I’ve been seeing reviews of The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations around lately, because the Tea Party is using this book, and specifically, the Starfish model, as its organizing principle. The quote that keeps popping up is this:

The title is based on the contrasting biology of spiders, which die when their heads are chopped off, and starfish, which can multiply when any given part is severed — a trait the book’s authors posit is shared by decentralized entities ranging from Alcoholics Anonymous to Al Qaeda to Wikipedia. — Politico


It’s always fascinated me how easy it is to find analogies in nature, for just about any phenomenon. The rhizome and the taproot work well here, too. And I’ve always likened Alcoholics Anonymous to a multi-level marketing outfit, which seem to me to spread like rhizomes. Also, I can definitely see Brendan Koerner’s analogy to an open source program, though it might be more accurate to compare it to a computer virus. I don’t think he could have actually said that, though. AA has it built into its structure to develop both symbiotic and parasitic relationships with outside entities, insinuating itself into every facet of public life in such a way as to maintain its integrity (and by “integrity,” I’m talking mechanics, not character). See, for instance, Bill Wilson’s own vision. Here, he is discussing the reason why AA needs to be receptive to outside agencies, and it is mostly because “most of the work and the money will have to come from elsewhere.”

More than anything, the answer to the problem of alcoholism seems to be in education – education in schoolrooms, in medical colleges, among clergymen and employers, in families, and in the public at large. From cradle to grave, the drunk and the potential alcoholic will have to be completely surrounded by a true and deep understanding and by a continuous barrage of information: the facts about his illness, its symptoms, its grim seriousness.


Now who is going to do all this education? Obviously, it is both a community job and a job for specialists. Individually, we A.A.’s can help, but A.A. as such cannot, and should not, get directly into this field. Therefore, we must rely on other agencies, on outside friends and their willingness to supply great amounts of money and effort – money and effort which will steer the alcoholic toward treatment as never before. – Bill W. “Let’s Be Friendly with Our Friends: Friends on the Alcoholism FrontContinue reading AA and The Treatment Industry

Keep Coming Back! Predator vs ?

(Hat tip to Speedy.)

Predator Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison

Two contrasting glimpses of a Wisconsin man were presented to a Lake County judge Wednesday.

In one version, James Turuc, 48, was represented as a compassionate man working hard to assist others in Alcoholics Anonymous. In the other version, Turuc was presented as a manipulative predator who took sexual advantage of a troubled teenager.

Judge Fred Foreman sentenced Turuc to 15 years in prison for the criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse charges of which he was convicted.

“(Turuc) took advantage of a child down on his luck. That child will now be scarred for life,” Assistant State’s Attorney Dan Kleinhubert said.

Four years ago, when the male victim was 14, he was troubled with issues and looking for help. Turuc represented himself as a counselor and took advantage of the young teen to sexually assault him in three separate sex acts in April 2007, Kleinhubert said.

Kleinhubert asked Foreman to impose a 15-year sentence, the maximum possible for the felonies Turuc was convicted of on Dec. 17, 2008.

“The sentence will never give (the victim) his childhood back,” Kleinhubert said.

Assistant Public Defender Kelli Politte asked Foreman to impose the minimum four-year prison sentence. She called seven witnesses, including two family members, to testify to Turuc’s altruistic nature.

“This man is dedicated to helping other people in need. He has led a remarkable life in that capacity,” Politte said.

Read the whole thing.

Attracting with Promotion in AA

The Queensland diocese of AA has put a unique spin on the AA tradition of “attraction, not promotion”, by offering their spiritual wares in a ‘public education seminar’:

Local AA groups came together last year to form a district group, and have organised a public meeting next month to educate the wider community on services available to those suffering from alcoholism.

No doubt if asked, these AAs would come with a ridiculous rationalization as to how this is not promotion. Something akin to “it’s spiritual, not religious”.

I feel sad for those with a real problem who think they are going their to get an education on alcoholism and treatment options, and will instead be suckered into a meeting by a bunch of Moonie-like drones spouting nothing but AA dogma.

Captive Audience (part 1)

I’m so sorry that the blog has been neglected for a few days. I have been focused on some actual paying work, Speedy is writing his magnum opus, and MA is at the Home Depot. Plus I read the July issue of Grapevine cover to cover, and I’ve been incapacitated, wandering around with a thousand-yard stare, ever since.

I wanted to write about this issue, because it’s the “Prison Issue – Sobriety Behind Bars: Staying Sober on the Inside,” and that seemed very timely, considering some of the discussion we’ve been having around here lately. But, it shorted out my brain. Seriously: fzzzzt…pop.

It’s just so packed full of crazy, I don’t know where to start. I sit down to write, and I just sputter. If anything can prove to me for good and all that AA is designed to trigger brain death, this issue of Grapevine can. Continue reading Captive Audience (part 1)

Drunkalog: The Conversion Narrative

The conversion narrative is part of our American culture (we’re not the only ones, but it helps to narrow things down sometimes). These are personal stories of redemption that we tell each other over and over again, for a few of reasons: first, they serve to instruct the wayward, second, they reinforce the tie that binds the community, and third, they serve to bring the teller into (or back into) the fold: they are proof that the teller has renounced sin and embraced the standards and beliefs of the community. Early American literature is rich with these personal testimonials, most notably, the Captivity Narrative.

Captivity Narratives were written, usually by women settlers, who were captured by Native Americans and ultimately “rescued” (I put “rescued” in quotes because in many cases these women facilitated their own escape, but decorum – and the formula – dictate that they be rescued). Upon their restoration, their first order of business was to write their stories, which invariably follow a standard outline: Times were tough, but I was dutifully or complacenly minding my own business; the savages attacked, and though I fought like hell, I was captured; I ended up in the belly of the devil and was subjected to all manner of debasement at the hands of heathens (not actual defilement, though, in case you were wondering); but I never forgot God; and finally I was rescued; and now that I am home, I am an even bigger Christian than I was before, because I know the difference now; Amen. Continue reading Drunkalog: The Conversion Narrative

The Second Tradition of Alcoholics Anonymous

“For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority—a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.”

Reverend Oral Roberts once had a conversation with a nine-hundred foot tall Jesus, who told him that he needed to build a medical school. A few years later, he had a conversation with God, who told him that he needed to raise 8 million dollars for his medical centre to train medical missionaries, or God was going to whack him. Fortunately for the good reverend, he was able to collect his cash, and he his life was spared. The next year he had another conversation with God, who told him close down the medical centre, but keep the 8 million bucks. Continue reading The Second Tradition of Alcoholics Anonymous

The First Tradition of Alcoholics Anonymous

“Each member of Alcoholics Anonymous is but a small part of a great whole. A.A. must continue to live or most of us will surely die. Hence our common welfare comes first. But individual welfare follows close afterward.”

In Alcoholics Anonymous, as with every cult, the individual’s welfare is subservient to the group’s. The first tradition threatens death as a consequence of a group’s failure with “AA must continue to live or most of us will surely die”. An AAer who questions an aspect of the program is considered a threat to the group, and is quickly met with put downs, typically in the form of a thought-stopping slogan. Most often they are labeled “angry” or “selfish” or the all-encompassing pejorative “dry drunk”. They will be told their ego is getting in the way, and that EGO is an acronym for “Edging God Out”. This is particularly effective on those who were convinced to make the AA group itself their higher power.

One thing never heard in an AA share meeting is a person telling how well their life has improved since they quit drinking, directly followed with “and I owe it all to myself”. In AA, all things bad are attributed to the individual, but all things good are attributable to the group – “the program does not fail, but some fail the program”. Any slip, for example, is a result of individual character flaws, or an individual not giving in fully to the program. This helps reinforce the strength of the group, to the expense of the individual.

The 11th Tradition of Alcoholics Anonymous

“Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films.”

I am always amazed to hear an AAer state that they are an organization based “on attraction, and not promotion”. This is bullshit on many levels.

Courts throughout the United States compel people to attend AA meetings, partly because of a general ignorance as to the ineffectiveness of the program, and partly because in many places, there is simply no treatment alternative. Additionally, treatment centres are the life blood of AA, as they model their treatment on the 12-Step approach, and they use AA as their aftercare program. Finally, the largest purchaser of AA official literature; and the largest publisher of AA based, 12-Step literature is Hazelden.

From The Orange Papers:

First, it’s just a quiet, confidential program of attraction, then it’s a tough-love program of steel-fisted coercion and promotion.
• They begin every meeting by reading aloud Tradition Eleven, which says:

“Our public relations policy is based on attraction, rather than promotion….”

• But later, they tell you to do everything you can to use the health and criminal justice systems to force people to join the 12-Step religion. The Little Red Book of Hazelden — a clone of The Little Red Book of Chairman Mao — specifically teaches recruiters to indoctrinate judges, doctors, and other officials as part of the proselytizing work. It says that faithful A.A. members can carry the message by:

“By telling the A.A. story to clergy members, doctors, judges, educators, employers, or police officials if we know them well enough to further the A.A. cause, or to help out a fellow member.”
The Little Red Book, Hazelden, page 128.

Then that book even goes on to tell recruiters to teach the judges, police, doctors, and other officials just what kind of people A.A. wants coerced into attending its meetings:
“By educating doctors, the clergy, judges, police officials, and industrial personnel regarding the type of people A.A. can help, we will avoid flooding our ranks with an unwieldy preponderance of non-alcoholics.”
The Little Red Book, Hazelden, page 137.

So much for the excuses that A.A. can’t help it if the judges, parole officers, and counselors force people to go to A.A. meetings. And Hazelden is merely echoing Bill Wilson’s instructions. In a 1939 letter from Bill to Earl T., a founding member of the Chicago A.A. group, Bill wrote:

“By educating doctors, hospitals, ministers along this line, you will surely pick up some strong prospects after a bit.
PASS IT ON, The story of Bill Wilson and how the A.A. message reached the world, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., pages 225-226.

Let’s examine this cycle a little further. This is a win/win/win situation for AAWS, Hazelden and local AA groups. Hazelden publishes the approved AA literature, Hazelden supplements the literature with their own publishing arm, and the local groups are fed an endless stream of recently graduated rehab patients.

The patient/AAer is the only party who is victimized. How? The findings of Project MATCH concluded that in-patient rehab is no more effective than either just going to AA, or a person quitting on their own. This insures that 95% percent of rehab graduates will fail, and a good percentage of them will go back into treatment – which is not cheap. Alcoholics who fall off of the wagon are led to believe (along with their families) that they failed the only program that can help them. Multiple rehab stints can literally put a family into financial ruin.