I advocated mentoring for those coming out of prison ‘way back in May 1998. In October 2017 there was a conference at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in NYC where research results were presented showing that credible messengers/mentors keep at-risk youth from a life of crime. This is important because it means the beginning of the breaking of the cycle of crime.
Just recently – April 2018 – there was Part 2 of Credible Messengers which gives us the ideas of how this is done. And, simply, it is done by building trust, building relationships rather than enforcing the great divide that exists between, say, the parole officer or the probation officer and the report.
Success is measured by the desire of the young people to go forward and become mentors themselves. It is not measured in the number of program attendees. Mentors give hope and show participants in the program how to change because they were once in their shoes. The mentors “show up” for the youth they are trying to help.
And there are some really difficult issues that are part of the problems: poverty, drugs, joblessness, crime, lack of services. These are just people doing what they can with what they have, and the young people are stepping up to the plate and bringing about success. “Instead of focusing on parole officers, or probation officers, or prisons, we can build communities,” said Saj Rahman, Director, Institute for Transformative Mentoring.
How can we support this movement? Hire credible messengers/ mentors. Yes. Pay them. Otherwise they have to turn to crime to support themselves.