CSOSA Staff Launch Mentoring Program at Rivers
By Cedric R. Hendricks, Associate Director, Office of Legislative, Intergovernmental and Public Affairs
(CSOSA Newslink, April 2003)
A team of CSOSA staff spent two days during April at the Rivers Correctional Institution, in Winton, North Carolina, briefing case managers and inmates on the benefits of the agency's faith-based mentoring program. The successful trip produced an agreement with Warden Willie Scott, Gary Templeton, Director of Programs at Wackenhut Corrections Corporation, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons to let us match inmates in the Release Preparation Program with mentors from local faith institutions. Fifty-one inmates expressed interest in participating. Twenty-three were determined to be eligible for the mentoring program. The remaining twenty-eight inmates were referred directly to our faith partnership's Cluster Coordinators for other services.
The mentor/mentee matching process will be completed by the TIPS staff and the Cluster Coordinators in early May. Teleconferencing equipment will be used to facilitate the initial meeting between the mentors and mentees later in the month. Subsequent contacts will also be made using this technology. However, we hope that the mentors will correspond with and visit their mentees. The relationships will continue after the mentees are released.
We expect to see these mentors assist their mentees with the development and implementation of release plans, just as other mentors have been doing over the past year with offenders who have returned to the District to reside in community corrections centers. Mentors can help mentees with many of their needs, including job development, locating affordable housing and family reunification.
Critical to the long-term development of this partnership between the Rivers Correctional Institution and CSOSA, and the ultimate delivery of mentoring services to the inmates, will be the active involvement of Rivers' case management staff. Even though the prison's administrators strongly support the mentoring program, it is the case managers upon whom we must ultimately rely to recruit inmates and to obtain all of the necessary information about them to make the appropriate mentor/mentee matches.
During the April visit, Rivers' case managers joined our TIPS staff during the "Functional Assessment" interviews that were conducted with many of the immates. This helped to make the interviews go smoothly, and introduced the case managers to our assessment tools and techniques. Warden Scott invited CSOSA to provide his staff with more focused training in the future to enhance their skills and their overall familiarity with our assessment process.
The Rivers' Education and Case Management staff put on a presentation for us about their Release Preparation Program. We learned that its core curriculum consists of eight hours of instruction covering such topics as Health and Nutrition, Personal Finance, Personal Growth and Development, Community Resources, Employment and Release Requirements. While we had been previously informed that participants in the program were enrolled 6-12 months prior to release, we found the reality to be that most were actually going to be released in less that four months. While this won't provide the mentees as much time as we had hoped for mentoring at the institution, we can, nonetheless, begin these very beneficial, and perhaps lasting relationships.
The experience with this pilot group of Rivers' mentees will be evaluated in a few months in order to determine the impact, and determine whether changes are needed in any of our procedures. When it is appropriate, a CSOSA team will travel to Rivers again to take the steps necessary to continue the program. If all goes well, we hope to launch a similar mentoring program later this year for the women incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution at Alderson, West Virginia.
CSOSA's team at Rivers consisted of Deputy Director Adrienne Poteat; CSS Deputy Associate Director McKinley Rush; TIPS Supervisors Mary Anna Portner and Sharon Mays Jacks; TIPS Officers Sharon Jackson, Jacinda Henderson, Noble Ihezue, and Ayeola Owens; and myself, OLIPA Associate Director Cedric Hendricks. Accompanying us on the trip was James Beck from the U.S. Parole Commission, and Faith Initiative Cluster Coordinators Reverend Sharon Best and Abubakr Karim.
For additional information on CSOSA media releases contact:
Leonard A. Sipes, Jr.
Senior Public Affairs Specialist
Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency
633 Indiana Avenue, NW Suite 1263
Washington, DC 20004