July 2019 | The Prison Issue

What my brother taught me

A probation and parole officer learns to love AA from the man whose calls she dreaded most

When I started as a probation and parole officer, I knew just a little bit about alcoholism and just a little bit less about treatment and recovery. When clients were diagnosed as needing treatment for alcoholism, I did what all probation and parole officers did—I sent the client to a treatment program and gave them a sheet to take to an AA meeting to get signed. When the client returned with the sheet, I did what all good probation and parole officers did—I looked at it to make sure there was different handwriting, different color ink. And if I was satisfied the client was not lying to me, I did what we all did—I threw the sheet in the file and gave the client a new sheet with the same instructions: “Go to an AA meeting.” 

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