You’re a registrant on parole with an alcohol/substance abuse problem.
You want to help yourself by attending AA, NA or some other supportive type group meetings. Your PO thinks it’s a fine idea, however, you may be prevented from fully participating in the AA program and it’s not AA who’s preventing it, it may be your PO.
It’s not only in real estate where “location” is everything.
Due to the endless boundary lines or buffer zones that registrants must navigate, wanting to attend an AA meeting can become a logistical nightmare for a registrant who is “still on paper.” This is a nightmare that could potentially sabotage your hard earned efforts to maintain sobriety.
Recently a registrant alerted me to the fact that in his large metropolitan area where there are multiple AA meeting groups and locations, he had been advised by his PO that there was only one meeting, held one night per week, at one specific locale that was OK for him to attend.
Out of the 20 or more different group meeting places offered in this city, only one, the registrant was advised, was held in an area that was not within a 1,000ft buffer zone of a school, park, playground, greenway, etc.
Briefly, AA is a support group, if you’re trying to maintain sobriety you can attend meetings as many times per day or week as you feel the need for. You can pick up a meeting in your home town or in any town USA while traveling cross country
So is it just those “still on paper” that are being denied full access to AA meetings or is this a common theme with anyone on the registry? And if so, why? It would seem that a registrant seeking support for an illness would be something commendable rather than deterred.
Many AA meetings are held in church or school basements, but that is “after” school hours, “when there’s a reasonable belief that no one under the age of 18 would be on school grounds?” Most registry rules indicate that you can’t be within buffer zones “without a legitimate reason for being there?” Shouldn’t attending a support group that is part of your recovery process qualify as a “legitimate” reason?
What’s next, will PO’s deny registrant’s access to their physicians, hospitals or any other treatment providers of their choice if those providers are within one of the many buffer zones that exclude registrants? The last I heard, alcohol and substance abuse were both medical/mental health conditions that require treatment and many physicians suggest participation in meetings such as AA as part of that treatment.
In this particular metro area, one nondescript professional building in a commercial area of hospitals and physicians offices conducts the highest number of meetings in the area, meetings are held almost continuously throughout the day, every day of the week. A safety net for alcoholics who may need frequent daily support groups to help maintain their sobriety.
But….this safe haven happens to be in a daycare buffer zone. (By my map calculations, the daycare is probably right on the 1000ft boundary line, that’s how far it is from the meeting facility, there are several office buildings, parking lots and a strip mall that separate the two.)
Support groups are considered healthcare, whether you are a CA survivor attending a CA support group or an alcoholic attending an alcohol support group, these groups benefit your mental health and the health care profession encourages patients to seek them out.
What if a registrant feels the need to attend more than one AA meeting per week to maintain sobriety? Is the denial of his access to AA meetings based solely on their locations the actual law or a huge misinterpretation of the law? According to the Sex Offender Law in this particular state, the presence restrictions indicate that registrants should not be in buffer zone areas if they are loitering, idly sitting or standing or being there without a legitimate purpose.
Isn’t attending a group that supports your physical or mental health a “legitimate purpose”?
The registrant questioned his PO about the denial of access because according to the registry map, it appears there is a second meeting location that is not in any buffer zone but remains off limits to registrants because of something called a “greenway connector”. Also known as “any street that runs through the entire city” greenway connectors can get you from one greenway to another. If this is the PO’s reasoning, it would make virtually the entire city one big buffer zone.
The last I heard, the registrant hadn’t received any further response from his PO, but maybe it will give the PO and other law enforcement something to think about.
But in the meantime, I find it ironic that printed right there on the AA meeting schedule for the one group that the registrant was informed by his PO that he could attend, there are directions to the meeting locale and they read as follows “entrance is next to playground.”