A friend who is a member of Alcoholics Anonymous flagged an interesting ethical dilemma involving the huge, loosely-affiliated alcoholism recovery and support group.
Judges often order mandatory attendance at AA meetings as conditions for leniency in alcohol-related crimes, like DUI, spousal abuse, and others. The problem is that AA is system of commitment and trust, and someone who only comes to meetings under threat of jail time have neither. It is the AA attendee’s acceptance of the reality that they are helpless against alcohol and willingness to commit fully to the program with others like than that allows AA to be as successful as it is, and the assurance of anonymity the group provides makes its existence possible. “Court-ordered attendees slink in here, roll their eyes, do their time and leave,” he told me. “How do we know that they aren’t regaling their friends with hilarious tales about what does on at meetings? What right does a judge have to make AA host someone who doesn’t really meet the group’s criteria?”
Good question, and it’s the Ethics Quiz of the Day:
Is it ethical for judges to force a non-profit, non-government, voluntary organization to assist the justice system at the risk of their own integrity and their members’ confidentiality?
This time I’m going to let everyone weigh in before I show my cards.
Here is a link that discusses some of the related issues.