Narconon Program Now Operating in San Quentin Prison

Narconon Operating in San Quentin Prison

(Article from 1974 in San Quentin News)

Narconon, a national organization that had its origin in the Arizona State Penitentiary in 1956, has began a training/counseling program in San Quentin that “gives us a variety of support to get out and stay out successfully,” Bobby Ward, executive director, announced last week.

Mr. Ward, a north block resident, recognized a need for this type of program in San Quentin last May. He began working to get the program established by writing letters to various prison staff members, and in June he received approval from Associate Warden Clem Swagerty.

Chaplain Harry Howard agreed to provide space in the Garden Chapel for weekly meetings, and Correctional Officers Mark Plater and Joe Waters agreed to act as sponsors. The first meeting was held in early July with 24 men in attendance.

Narconon San Quentin (NSQ) now meets every Saturday morning from 8 a.m. until 11 a.m. There is an average attendance of 25 to 35 men.

Training in drug counseling is offered, along with narcotic educational service, rehabilitation and prevention.

Mr. Ward teaches a communications course with the assistance of two men from the Narconon Berkeley Theta House.

The training men receive through this course will enable them, upon release, to go to work for the Narconon organization, with offices throughout California and 36 outlying states, as drug counselors, course supervisors in juvenile institutions, adult institutions or in Narconon halfway houses.

If the man chooses not to become a drug counselor or supervisor, he is given the opportunity to work in either of the Narconon arts and crafts stores located in Berkeley.

Narconon also has a job placement service for participants in their program that wish to continue in a trade of their own after they are paroled and not work in the Narconon organization.

The program is not restricted to men with narcotic related offenses. Supervisors and counselors are needed in all areas of anti-social behavior. “This course is for your head. It is good for anyone who has a dependency on crime-any crime dependency,” Bobby Ward explained.

Although Narconon is recognized by the California Department of Corrections, it is not a state program. Private donations and some volunteer service provide the funds on which Narconon operates.

Men who wish to participate in this program are encouraged to contact Bobby Ward. He can be reached weekdays in the library, at his cell in the north block (l-N-BB), or at the Saturday meetings.

Because of the large response to this program from the men in San Quentin, expansion is being researched in an attempt to accommodate the over 600 men who are already on the waiting list. Additional class space and sponsors are needed to alleviate this problem.