Narconon Offers Convicts New Rehabilitation Program
GREETING his mainland guest William Benitez, Rev. John Elliott, left, of the Church of Scientology, gives him a coconut as a souvenir of the Islands. The symbol of a broken hypodermic needle on Benitez's briefcase symbolizes the Narconon organization, designed to help drug addicts quit. --Pali Press Photo
A dynamic young man with a message of hope for narcotic addicts and others with serious problems visited Hawaii last week to introduce a program called Narconon.
William C. Benitez, a narcotic user since the age of 13, and a four time loser in the Arizona State Prison, has not only straightened out his own life, but is devoting it to helping his fellow men. He is doing this through Narconon, an organization he started in jail while serving time on a narcotic charge.
Benitez was invited to Hawaii by the local Church of Scientology. In company with its pastor, the Reverend John Elliott, he called upon prison officials here to outline the program he proposes for the inmates of the Hawaii Prison. According to Benitez, they were well received by many prison officials, including Ray Belnap, Administrator of the Corrections Division.
The program is now being seriously considered for trial within prison walls, and also for members of the State's Conditional Release Center, According to Benitez. The men in the Center work outside in the community, and are returned to the Center at night.
The Narconon program is in use in Arizona State Prison and is composed of more than 100 men, many of them non-addicts.
Benitez recalls that while in prison, he was despondent to the point of considering suicide, when he was inspired by reading a book called "Fundamentals of Thought" by L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology and Dianetics. The book was given to him in jail by a fellow inmate.
"When I had finished reading it" says Benitez, "I knew that I had found the way out, and that I would never be tempted to touch drugs again. And that is how it has been. I also knew I would found an organization for people like myself and that when I ready, I would get out of jail, even though at the time I was looking forward to 15 years behind bars."
Wasting no time on the decision to remake his life, Benitez, together with a fellow inmate who was studying law, began to work toward his own release. After considerable research he found a technical loophole in the manner in which he had been sentenced, and on this basis was re-sentenced to a four year term. He had already served a year of that time.
Benitez finished out the three years, working within the prison to set up the Narconon program.
The fundamental idea is showing people who are in trouble how to be the cause of things, rather than the effect.
Substantially it means giving the person the confidence to change and direct his own life, despite any and all adverse circumstances.
Benitez talked to the full prison population, in Hawaii for more than an hour, and says that 95 per cent of his audience expressed enthusiasm for the program and wanted to try it.
Since Benitez must return to California to present his program to the Governor, and to California penologists, the program would be carried on in Hawaii under Reverend Elliott's direction.
Is the program just for drug addicts? "By no means" says Benitez. "Anyone is welcome to join who has any type of disability, and we have many such members. We do not believe in classifying people, calling them drug addicts, alcoholics, or whatever. It is important that the person not identify himself with a label, but that he realizes at all time he is a human being, and has the capacity to make himself the kind of person he wants to be. Narconon, while it started in the field of drug addiction, is for people with problems that are interfering with their ability to cope with life. All are welcome."
Reverend Elliott, who would be administering the program, was asked to define how it would work. Said Elliott: "The program would cover both theory and practice. The theory part would break down basic concepts of life such as control, cause, responsibility and communication, defining them clearly.
"For example control is basic to life; we go through life either controlling or being controlled. If you ask someone what is control, or what are the parts of control, you will have a difficult time getting an answer which has a workable value for you.
"The man who knows nothing about the theory of automobile engine will have a hard time repairing one if it is not functioning well. The person who likewise knows nothing about the anatomy of control will have a difficult time controlling well, and will not readily be able to improve his own ability.
"Control, as used in our program, simply means starting or creating something, changing something, or stopping something undesirable. Painters and inventors are good at creating or starting things. Managers and repairmen are good and changing things or aiding them to continue. Policemen and firemen are good at stopping things.
In the practical part of the course the student is involved in exercises which are designed to increase his control ability. Just as a football player is coached into greater ability, so the student is likewise supervised in practice.
"When a prison inmate really learns how to control himself and to communicate, his life becomes easier to handle, and the need to violate law is drastically reduced."