Group helps inmates seek freedom on the inside

Posted at 5:54 PM, Oct 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-08 20:35:26-04

A group out of Ontario aimed at providing freedom for inmates on the inside is changing lives one visit at a time.

They're now looking to cross the border into Idaho so they can help even more people move past addiction.

Saturday was not your typical day at the Snake River Correctional Institution in Oregon.

"It's definitely different than the everyday routine," said Devin Bird, of Portland, who has 20 more months until he is released.

The inmates at the minimum security facility have a special group of visitors on this day: The Freedom Seekers Alcohol Anonymous group. They get clearance once a year to bring their motorcycle and car show to the inmates. Many of them can relate.

"We know that pain of being alone, losing families and losing loved ones, losing jobs, losing every opportunity we ever had because of because we couldn't stop drinking and drugging," said John Pearce, Freedom Seekers AA.

Each inmate is here for different reasons and, perhaps, are learning their lesson the hard way.

"I got arrested when I was practically 19," Bird said. "So, I mean, I still have to get out there and figure it out."

Raymond Davis is in the institution's recovery program. He says things are going well, and he has plans to start his own business when he's released 16 months from now.

"Next month, I'll have five years clean and sober," Davis said. "So, I'm looking forward to getting out and being with my family and making a difference."

The idea behind the Freedom Seekers AA group is to provide those who may not have anyone the support they need to successfully move past an addiction.

Plus, the mentorship continues beyond the borders of the prison's fence. Once they're on the outside, members help them find a place to live, a place to work and most importantly provide a support network that can help them line up with their new goals.

"It's changed my life a lot," said Chris White, an inmate. "It's changed the way I think about things. It's given me a new outlook on life. I really appreciate it and I know it's there for me when I go home. It's something I'll be very active in."

White hopes others get the message that there is help out there and that all they have to do is ask.

For more information on how to get involved with the Freedom Seekers AA group, dial (541) 881-1153 or send an e-mail to You can also send a letter in the mail to the following address in care of John Pearce: P.O. Box 158, Ontario, Ore. 97914.