Legal and Corrections Professionals

What corrections professionals may want to know about A.A.

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women whose primary purpose is to stay sober and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. A.A. work is done by A.A. members on a voluntary basis. A.A. has no central authority and almost no structural organization. A.A. does operate a General Service Office in New York (which acts mostly as a clearinghouse for information, worldwide) and local central or intergroup offices Corrections professionals, A.A. members, and inmates themselves interested in starting a new A.A. group for inmates will get help from A.A.’s General Service Office.

G.S.O. will provide the pamphlet “A.A. in Correctional Facilities,” a Group Handbook and other A.A. literature. Many local A.A. service committees, including the Corrections Committee of this District 15, will, upon request, provide informational presentations for your organization. Sessions can be tailored to meet your needs. A typical agenda might include one or several A.A. films and a presentation by one o r more A.A. members on “What A.A. Is and What It Is Not.

Please use the Contact page on this site.  You may also contact the, Cooperation with the Professional Community desk at the General Service Office: or 212-870-3400 or follow the link here to  for national or for Virginia follow this link to  We stay sober through working with others.

A.A. wants to work with you.

Cooperation with the professional community is an objective of A.A., and has been since our beginnings. We are always seeking to strengthen and expand our communication with you, and we welcome your comments and suggestions. They help us to work more effectively with you in achieving our common purpose: to help the alcoholic who still suffers.

A.A. in correctional facilities.

There are approximately 1,487 A.A. groups meeting in correctional facilities throughout the United States and Canada. Each has a local arrangement between the administrators of the prison, work farm or jail and nearby A.A. groups.

A frequent question is why inmates have any need of A.A. while they are incarcerated. The answer is that the A.A. program is far more than staying away from alcohol. A.A. has been called a way of life, and its success for groups that meet while in custody shows that this program can help the alcoholic inmate live a sober and contented life, both while in custody and after release.

Many inmates were sentenced for crimes in which alcohol abuse was an important factor. This percentage appears to be somewhat higher among inmates in facilities for young offenders.

Corrections professionals often find many benefits for those inmates who attend A.A. meetings, and feel that an inmate’s chance of making it on the outside is improved by participation in the A.A. program.

Inmate groups

The conditions under which an inmate group functions are established by the administration. These regulations are inviolable for A.A. visitors as well as for inmates. Since regulations can and do vary, A.A. members will need to be specifically informed about the rules/regulations of each facility they will enter. To that end, good communication between corrections administrators and local A.A. committees is essential.

Typically, local A.A. members sponsor groups in correctional facilities and work with personnel designated by administrators, as well as with officers of the “inside” A.A. group.

Once an inmate group gets through its early stages, it is very much like other A.A. groups. Except for scheduled visits from the A.A. sponsor and A.A. speakers from outside, there need be no extra “traffic” in the operation of an inmate A.A. group.

Re-entry and parole

Experience shows that when inmate A.A. members go promptly to A.A. on the outside, they are likely to stay sober — and free. However, if they put it off until they “get settled,” they may never get to A.A. A.A. can help minimize this risk. Before inmate A.A. members are actually released, there is usually time to get in touch with A.A. in the city or town where they plan to live. The inside sponsor and A.A. contacts can almost always make sure that a real welcome awaits newly-free people — not as former inmates, but as fellow members of A.A.

What A.A. does NOT do

A.A. does not: Furnish initial motivation for alcoholics to recover; solicit members; engage in or sponsor research; keep attendance records or case histories; join “councils” or social agencies (although A.A. members, groups and service offices frequently cooperate with them); follow up or try to control its members; make medical or psychological diagnoses or prognoses; provide detox, rehabilitation or nursing services, hospitalization, drugs, or any medical or psychiatric treatment; offer religious services or host/sponsor retreats; engage in education about alcohol; provide housing, food, clothing, jobs, money or any other welfare or social services; provide domestic or vocational counseling; accept any money for its services or any contributions from non-A.A. sources; provide letters of reference to parole boards, lawyers, court officials, social agencies, employers, etc.

Singleness of purpose and problems other than alcohol.

Some professionals refer to alcoholism and drug addiction as “substance abuse” or “chemical dependency.” Nonalcoholics are, therefore, sometimes introduced to A.A. and encouraged to attend A.A. meetings. Non alcoholics may attend open A.A. meetings as observers, but only those with a drinking problem may attend closed A.A. meetings.


This Is A.A.
(An introduction to the A.A. recovery program.)

Frequently Asked Questions About A.A.
(Answers to specific questions about A.A.)

Is A.A. for Me?
(Twelve illustrated questions to help break denial; easy-to-read format.)

Is A.A. for You? 
(Twelve questions to help break denial.)

A.A. for the Woman
(Eight women’s stories and information about A.A.)

Too Young?
(Illustrated stories of six teenagers; twelve questions to help break denial.)

Newcomer Asks
(Fifteen questions and answers to help newcomers.)

A.A. for the Older Alcoholic—Never Too Late
(Eight stories of A.A. members who came to A.A. when they were over sixty.)

Do You Think You’re Different?
(Fourteen stories of very different A.A. members who are now “special” together.)

The A.A. Member—Medications and Other Drugs
(A.A. members’ experience with med- ications and other drugs.)

Where Do I Go from Here?
(For people leaving treatment and corrections facilities; tells of continuing help offered by “outside” A.A.)

A Brief Guide to Alcoholics Anonymous
(Offers general information about A.A. and explains the program in simple language.)

A.A. and the Gay/Lesbian Alcoholic
(Sober gay and lesbian alcoholics share their experience, strength and hope.)

A.A. for the Black and African American Alcoholic
(Black/African Americans share their stories).


Hope: Alcoholics Anonymous
(What A.A. is and isn’t, its primary purpose, sponsorship, a home group, the Steps and Traditions and basic recovery tools. Closed-captioned for the hearing impaired; 15 minutes.)

A.A. Videos for Young People
(A.A. members who got sober in their teens and early twenties relate their experiences in A.A.)

A New Freedom
(Filmed inside correctional facilities in the U.S. and Canada, a diverse group of A.A. members share about participating in A.A. in prison and their sobriety as a result of the Twelve Steps and involvement in the A.A. Fellowship; 30 minutes.)

Alcoholics Anonymous—An Inside View
(Depicts alcoholics, recovering in A.A., going on about their daily lives, attending A.A. meet- ings and other gatherings; 28 minutes.)

A catalog and order form of A.A. Conference-approved literature, videos and other material are available from the General Service Office of Alcoholics Anonymous, Box 459, Grand Central Station, New York, NY 10163

ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS® is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.

A.A. Video for Legal and Corrections Professionals

A.A. Literature