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“Someone Who’s Been There But Isn’t Too Far Away:” Findings from a Study of the Mentoring Component of a Young Adult Reentry Program. Emily A. NaPier Center for Community Alternatives Research Associate, Justice Strategies John Jay College of Criminal Justice Prisoner Reentry Institute

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“Someone Who’s Been ThereBut Isn’t Too Far Away:”Findings from a Study of the Mentoring Component of aYoung Adult Reentry Program

Emily A. NaPier

Center for Community Alternatives

Research Associate, Justice Strategies

John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Prisoner Reentry Institute

Occasional Series on Reentry Research

October 3, 2008

purpose of study
Purpose of Study
  • Strengthen the Self-Development: Reentry Program
  • Explore meanings that mentors and mentees attach to their mentoring relationships
  • Identify best practices for implementing mentoring programs with young adults
  • Describe challenges faced in implementing mentoring programs with young adults and recommend strategies for overcoming them
  • Situate findings in CCA’s framework of reintegrative justice
reentry program description
Reentry Program Description
  • A program of the Center for Community Alternatives operating out of its Syracuse, NY office
  • Funded by SAMHSA 2004 to 2008
  • Voluntary program
  • Serves young adults ages 16 to 24 who indicate a history of substance abuse and are returning to the Syracuse area from incarceration
  • Enrolls most participants at the local jail where they receive transitional services 2 to 3 months prior to their release
  • Provides treatment readiness services, case management, mentoring, and employment services upon release
program participant profile
Program Participant Profile
  • 255 participants
  • All but 17 are male
  • Average age at enrollment = 19.73 years old
  • Two-thirds Black, 26% White, 9% Native American, 9% Latino, and 6% some other race
  • Average grade completed = 9th
  • 8% had high school diploma and 28% had GED at enrollment
  • Fewer than 25% employed at time of incarceration
  • 38% have children
reentry program evaluation
Reentry Program Evaluation
  • Required by SAMHSA
  • Outcomes analysis based on GPRA data and programmatic data
  • Three focus groups with participants each year
  • Periodic interviews with program staff
  • Observation of program activities
  • Process analysis of implementation
  • Monthly meetings with program managers
  • Periodic presentations to the program’s Advisory Board, staff, and participants
why include mentoring
Why Include Mentoring?
  • Intended to provide support for the participants’
    • community reintegration
    • progress in addressing substance abuse issues
    • establishment of positive relationships
    • development of connections to resources in the community
  • Recruits mentors from CCA’s Recovery Network of New York (RNNY) site in its Syracuse office to
    • provide mentors with an opportunity to “give back”
    • allow mentees to learn from someone who has faced similar challenges with respect to substance abuse and criminal justice system involvement
recovery network of new york
Recovery Network of New York
  • Funded by SAMHSA
  • Voluntary program
  • Provides services to adults with histories of addiction and criminal justice system involvement
    • Employment and education
    • Citizenship restoration
    • Reintegration
    • General social support
  • Emphasizes peer-led and peer-driven recovery support
  • Includes a drop-in center and holds peer-led support group meetings twice daily
mentor training
Mentor Training
  • Orientation
    • Overview of Reentry Program
    • Role of a mentor
    • Do’s and don’t’s of mentoring
    • Introductions to program staff
  • Monthly support meetings
    • Refresher trainings
    • Building relationships with program staff
    • Discussion of mentoring successes and challenges
mentoring stage one
Mentoring: Stage One
  • Program participants are matched with a mentor four to six weeks prior to their release from the correctional facility
  • Mentor and mentee meet in the correctional facility at least twice prior to release
  • CCA provides transportation for mentors to the correctional facility
  • Department of Correction has been very cooperative in making arrangements for visits
mentoring stage two
Mentoring: Stage Two
  • Mentors are expected to remain in regular weekly contact with their mentees after release
  • CCA provides a stipend to mentors to cover expenses for transportation and entertainment
  • Mentors and mentees may be reassigned if the match does not appear to be working out
  • Mentors may have one to three mentees in various stages of the program
  • Formal program support for the match ends after the mentee is discharged from the program (ideally after one year)
study methodology
Study Methodology
  • Conducted research in winter and spring of 2007
  • Observed mentor trainings and meetings
  • Reviewed relevant scientific and practitioner-oriented literature
  • Administered questionnaires to 11 of the 13 active mentors and 14 program participants
  • Conducted in-depth interviews with three mentors and three mentees
  • Study participants were compensated with gift certificates to a local shopping center
study participant profile
Study Participant Profile
  • Average age of mentors = 48
  • All mentors report histories of either substance abuse or criminal justice system involvement; eight have histories of both
  • Program participants ranged in age from 17 to 23
  • 12 program participants enrolled at the correctional facility; 2 enrolled after their release from other correctional facilities
  • All male
  • Participated in 68 mentor/mentee matches
recruitment and matching
Recruitment and Matching
  • “Giving back” is a major motivation for mentors
  • Program participants want a mentor “who’s been there but isn’t too far away”
  • Program participants think mentors should be outgoing and funny to help reluctant participants feel more comfortable and able to open up
  • Mentors and mentees both advocated for transparency in the matching and closing processes
training and program support
Training and Program Support
  • Both mentors and mentees suggested that mentor trainings should include some practical tips for starting conversations and interacting with mentees
  • Mentors felt better equipped to fulfill their roles when they were presented with
    • clear definitions of those roles
    • realistic goals to accomplish with their mentees
    • adequate information about program functions
  • The monthly support groups for mentors were received very favorably as times for fellowship and sharing of information
  • Both mentors and mentees advocated for more program-sponsored group activities
what mentoring means
What Mentoring Means
  • Mentors received satisfaction from helping to prepare their mentees for the future
  • Mentoring is not just a volunteer experience but an emotional investment for mentors
  • Both mentors and mentees regard the establishment of trust as an important foundational piece of their mentoring relationships
  • Mentees received satisfaction from knowing there is someone “in my phone” from whom to get help with problems and moral support
  • Both mentors and mentees emphasized the importance of respect in their relationships
best practices
Best Practices
  • Best practices include solid infrastructure in 3 areas:
    • Recruitment and screening of mentors
    • Orientation and training of mentors
    • Programmatic support and supervision of matches
  • Programs should expect to spend a minimum of $1000 per mentoring match
program recommendations
Program Recommendations
  • Call it something other than “mentoring” to make it more attractive to mentees
  • Provide readiness training for mentees to help them prepare for the relationship
  • Recruit mentors who have backgrounds similar to those of the mentees to benefit both parties
  • Provide financial compensation and reliable transportation to improve mentor retention
  • Match mentors and mentees while the mentee is still incarcerated to provide a stronger foundation
  • Recognize and address how mentees’ experiences with substance use differ from mentors’ experiences with addiction to improve match success
  • With proper support, both mentors and mentees can receive benefits from their mentoring relationships that may facilitate reintegration
    • Mentors can “give back” and improve their civic engagement
    • Mentees have someone to guide them through the reintegration process
    • Both learn to establish trusting relationships and feel respected, thus buffering the stigmas of substance abuse and criminal histories
  • While often “screened out” of other volunteer opportunities, people with criminal histories are ideal candidates for mentors in this setting
center for community alternatives
Center for Community Alternatives

CCA promotes reintegrative justice and a reduced reliance on incarceration through advocacy, services, and public policy development in pursuit of civil and human rights.

Emily A. NaPier

Research Associate, Justice Strategies

115 East Jefferson Street, Suite 300

Syracuse, NY 13202

315/422-5638 x267