From the July 1996 magazine.

The Magic of Prison AA

First trip to Federal prison this year. Twenty-four last year. Thursday meeting starts at 7 pm. Pretty good crowd, about half and half, insiders and outsiders. Open for business by 7:10 pm. Same old stuff. Over and over. Open topic as usual. Takes a while to get rolling, need to be patient. Smoke break at 7:40 pm. Welcome relief, like an oasis. New man wants to talk. Worried about what to say. Tell him it was a blessing, just try to listen. Back into the meeting now. Things are moving right along. Not everyone is going to get to talk. As usual, it stops right at the new man. He doesn't even get called on. Windy guy, like me, took all the last five minutes. Getting close to recall--that's prison talk for "we got to go." Hurry on now. Big circle starts to form. Man on my left is shaking. Halfway through, the shaking stops. We shake hands. He thanks me for being there. What more can I say? It's 8:35 pm. now. Meeting's over but no one seems to want to leave. That's the magic of prison AA.

-- Anonymous

Greenville, Illinois

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