Atlanta Journal, MORGAN BLAKE, January 28, 1945
A Remarkable Meeting at City Prison
THE OTHER NIGHT I participated in one of the most remarkable meetings I ever attended. It was at the City Prison, of which that grand gentleman, humanitarian and splendid prison executive, H. H. Gibson, is the superintendent. Mr. Gibson has revolutionized conditions at this place. When I first started visiting the prison many years ago to talk to men there, it was hardly fit for hogs. Now it is a clean, sanitary place, with good food and sympathetic and kindly guards and attendants.
Some sixteen members of Alcoholics Anonymous were guests of Mr. Gibson for supper, after which they put on a program attended by 103 of the prisoners, practically all of them chronic alcoholics. Only a small per cent of these men were there on any other charge than public drunkenness. They spend their days in and out, and in and out again.
Many of the 16 members of Alcoholics Anonymous had themselves served terms in this very prison, and also in many other jails and prisons of this country for drunkenness. They are men who through affiliation with Alcoholics Anonymous have finally rid themselves of the terrible disease that doctors cannot cure. They were at the prison for no other purpose but to be of help to their fellow men, who are still held with iron chains by John Barleycorn.
Straight From the Shoulder
Three former alcoholics now well established in business and whose homes are now happy and secure, represented the group as speakers. They spoke the language the man in prison understood. They pulled no punches in telling of the degraded lives they had lived before conquering their affliction. And they told how they had found the cure. They had asked me to close the meeting with a brief talk and they had created an atmosphere that was just right for what I had to say.
One of the most difficult audiences to reach and hold to one like this. But these prisoners were simply moved by what their former comrades of booze told them.
Alcoholics Anonymous, of course, has many failures. There is no magic connected with it. Many scoundrels have imposed upon its good will and sincere efforts to help. But there have been some glorious victories.
What Will The Harvest Be?
At the conclusion, the master of ceremonies asked the prisoners if they desired to quit drinking. All raised their hands, and most of them declared they were going to get in touch with Alcoholics Anonymous after they got out.
Well, you may ask, will there be any beneficial results from the meeting? I believe there will be. I believe that three, maybe five, lives will be permanently changed because of it, and that many more will begin to consider seriously their condition and ultimately be cured.
Three is not many out of 103, you may say. My friends, if because of that meeting, three chronic drunks are changed into constructive citizens, if three homes heretofore miserable, will be made happy again, I say it will be a glorious victory, or even one, for that matter.
These meetings at City Prison by Alcoholics Anonymous will be held every two weeks. I foresee wonderful results.
Today I am going again to this prison for a religious service with the Agoga Bible class evangelistic team. After my experience with the men the other night I believe I will have a sympathetic hearing today when I tell them the old old story.
A Group at Federal Prison
You may be interested to know that a group of Alcoholics has been formed at the Federal Prison composed of eighty to ninety men. Some members of Atlanta’s group meets with them each Sunday. Two weeks from today they have asked me to meet with them. It will be a joyous privilege.
Not a day passes but that broken-hearted mothers and wives call me about their drunken sons and husbands and ask me to get help to them. Let me repeat again that there is no magic to Alcoholics Anonymous. The group cannot help any drunkard who does not want to quit. The invitation to help must come from the afflicted party. The group never butts into anybody’s business or privacy unless requested.