John McCready's Anti-Coercion 12 Steps
SOS Newsletter Spring 2008  Vol. 20, No. 4 5

While there have been several federal court decisions regarding the
coercion of criminal defendants to attend 12-Step groups over the
last decade, the one handed down last Sept. from the U.S. 9th Circuit
Court of Appeals (Inoyue vs. Kemna) is clearly one that "coercing
authorities" (judges, parole agents, probation officers, etc.) do NOT
want criminal defendants knowing of. What makes this decision so
monumental is that not only does it already re-iterate the previous
decade of federal court decisions to justify the current ruling,
but takes the ruling one step further by stating that ANY "coercive
authority" who orders a person to attend a self-help group MUST give
that ordered person a CHOICE between 12-Step (religious), and non12-
Step (secular) self-help groups. Failing to do so allows for the
ordered person to SUE the coercing authority, INDIVIDUALLY, as
defendant Inouye was allowed to do to his parole agent in this case.

The "down-side" to this decision is that it still implicitly endorsed
coerced attendance to self-help groups as being something coercing
authorities still
CAN do (the issue of coercion attendance to self-help groups in and
of itself was not addressed). While all self-help groups (regardless
of their type) do benefit with bodies unwillingly showing up at their
meetings (though none of them are in the business of hostage-
holding!), at least this decision will give these groups the
satisfaction of knowing that coercively attended clients have some
degree of being able to "vote with their feet." This might also allow
self-help groups the option of segregating the "voluntary attendees"
from the "coerced attendees" (where a "proof of attendance slip" is
required), in order to get an idea of how much "hostage-holding" the
self-help group is being put in the position of doing.

John McCready is a Registered Addiction Specialist, and a Nationally
Certified Addiction Counselor-I. He works as a case manager and group
facilitator in an Orange County based DUI program, and is also the
convenor for the SOS group of North San Diego County, held in

A Federal Court Decision They `don't want you to know about'
by John McCready

John McCready's Anti-Coercion 12 Steps

Step 1: We admit that we are powerless over the coercing authority
that is forcing us to be at this meeting (or for the want of a good
attorney, we would NOT BE!)

Step 2: We came to believe that the coercing authority forcing us to
be at this meeting is in fact a "power greater then ourselves", as it
can either have us incarcerated, or at the very least, prevent us
from obtaining a driver's license!

Step 3: We NOW BELIEVE, that our coercing authority has a specific
title as we understand and address it (e.g. "Your Honor", "Parole
Agent X," "Probation Officer Y", "government agency Z"!).

Step 4: We made a list of all the self-help meetings we are coerced
to attend, and became entirely resigned to having to attend these
meetings, even if that attendance prevented us from providing for our
own basic needs such as food, clothing, shelter, employment, and

Step 5: We attended such meetings to the total extent we ARE REQUIRED
TO, hoping only to find one, which will SIGN OUR PROOF OF ATTENDANCE
CARDS AT IT'S BEGINNING, and then let us leave
immediately, so as to not "contaminate" the meeting's VOLUNTARY
NATURE, and the NON- COERCED, VOLUNTARY attendees!

Step 6: We were entirely ready to STOP GOING to these coercively
attended meetings, if only that option were made available to us!

Step 7: We begged, pleaded, whined wept, stole coffee pots from some
self-help groups, and then threatened legal action against our
coercive authority (as we understand and address it!), to relieve us
of this coercive meeting attendance burden.

Step 8: We made a list of the non-coerced meeting attendees who bored
us senseless with their stories of "true-believing" in the meetings,
and became willing to do ANYTHING POSSIBLE to not have to listen to

Step 9: We expressed our best non-verbal resistance to such meeting
participants, except when to do so would result in our "proof of
meeting attendance card" to not get signed!

Step 10: We pretended to attend the coerced meetings anyway, except
when we could fake a signature on the "proof of meeting attendance
card" (without getting caught!) which we PROMPTLY AND REPEATEDLY

Step 11: We submitted our proof of COERCED MEET-ING "ATTENDANCE" card
to our coercive authority (as we understand and address it!), in
spite of the fact that being able to accurately VERIFY ANY self-help
group meeting attendance is IMPOSSIBLE TO DO!

Step 12: We came to realize as a result of these steps, that coercing
people to attend ANY self-help group meeting, is not only a violation
of the VOLUNTARY INVOLVEMENT of any self-help group meeting's
attendees, but is an OVERWHELMINGLY OBSCENE VIOLATION of a person's
constitutional right to freedom of association, as well as creates
RESENTMENT from both coerced and voluntary self-help group meeting
attendees TOWARDS EACH OTHER, and is also disrespectful to the
privacy of ALL self-help groups!

John McCready


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