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Reaching Convicts

The 7th Step program originated in Kansas  State Prison in 1963 organized by an ex-convict, Bill Sands and Reverend James Post. Bill Sands was inspired by a Warden at San Quentin by the name of Clinton Duffy. It was designed to reach the hardcore convict population, the men and women who are often the leaders within the institutions, with an end goal of reducing recidivism. Bill Sands and Reverend Post used the basics of the 12 Step Program and applied them, in principle, to getting out of prison and staying out.  They re-formatted the 12 steps to make seven steps and ensured that the first letter of each step spelt FREEDOM.

The 7th Step self-help program is not a faith program but it is based on faith.  Faith on the belief that freedom can be attained and maintained if one followed and practiced the seven steps and if one would “Think Realistically”. The 7th Step Program uses a triad approach in the delivery.  It is vital that ex-offenders are involved and giving back to the serving offender, whether it is in an institution or in the community.  The non-offender plays a very important role in that they bring a perspective that may offer another way for the offender to think and act.

Three men, Tom Gordon, Jim Sabourin and Jack Lynch introduced the program into Canada in 1967, first into youth facilities at Haney Correctional Institute and then into other adult facilities in the lower mainland in the Vancouver Area.   The first Seventh Step Chapter group was set up in the John Howard Office and the first institutional group was in the BC Penitentiary. Under the direction of Pat & Bea Graham, the Seventh Step Society of Canada became a registered charity, a non-profit organization in 1981under Letters Patent of Canada and remains in good standing with the Government of Canada CRA.