Faith Community Partnership: Mentoring Initiative
The Mentoring Initiative links offenders with concerned members of the faith community who offer support, friendship, and assistance during the difficult period of re-entry. During the transition from prison to home, returning offenders can be overwhelmed by the many large and small challenges they face. Participating offenders are matched with a volunteer mentor from one of the participating faith-based institutions to help them negotiate and overcome those challenges.
The objective of mentoring is to build strong positive values and provide accessible role models for ex-offenders returning to our communities. Through regular communication, coaching, moral support and guidance, mentors assist in the growth and development of the offender mentee while also helping them to identify linkages to faith-based and other resources that can assist in the transition from prison to community.
In 2003 CSOSA recognized the need to begin the process of linking returning offenders with services well before they were released from prison. Using teleconferencing technology, CSOSA took the Faith/Community Partnership into the Rivers Correctional Institution in Winton, North Carolina, a Bureau of Prisons contract facility that houses over 1,000 D.C. code offenders. That outreach has developed into regular Community Resource Day video conferences, at which representatives from the Faith/Community Partnership and a variety of District social service agencies provide information to men nearing release and provides them with the ability to have face-to-face contact with their mentors.
Since 2002, the Mentoring Initiative has:
- Certified 164 faith institutions as mentor centers
- Recruited and trained more than 600 volunteer mentors
- Referred 1,322 offenders for mentor matches
Research suggests that offenders who participate in the program incur fewer technical violations, have fewer positive drug tests, and are less likely to be rearrested the longer they remain actively engaged with a mentor.
CSOSA continues to recruit additional faith institutions, volunteers and community organizations to expand the range of services available to returning offenders.
For more information on the Mentoring Initiative, please contact the Office of Community Justice Programs at (202) 220-5306.