Mentoring as a Component of Reentry: Practical Considerations from the Field
Author(s): Umez, Chidi; De la Cruz, Jan; Richey, Maureen; and Alvis, Katy.
Organizational Author(s): The National Reentry Resource Center
Funding source not identified
Resource Availability: Publicly available
Presents five recommended components of reentry programs based on lessons learned from 150 Second Chance Act mentoring grant recipients, with examples from programs in Connecticut, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin.
“Adults in the criminal justice system may return from incarceration to families and communities that lack sufficient natural social supports and the resources to support positive reentry outcomes. While research has demonstrated that carefully structured, well-run mentoring programs can positively impact social, behavioral, and academic outcomes for at-risk young people, whether adults returning to their communities after incarceration can also benefit from mentoring as part of a comprehensive reentry program has yet to be determined” (p.6).
“The research related to adult reentry mentoring that does exist rarely addresses participants’ criminogenic risk levels and other factors that are known to be important in recidivism-reduction strategies. In the absence of research, reentry programs and corrections agencies are looking for guidance on how mentoring and correctional evidence-based practices…can be integrated.
To meet the existing gap in the field, this publication is intended to accomplish the following goals:
- To provide recommendations for community-based organizations that wish to integrate adult mentoring into existing reentry programming;
- To offer guidance on building effective partnerships with correctional agencies;
- To promote peer learning by highlighting reentry programs that use promising practices in adult mentoring, including peer mentoring; and
- To encourage increased data collection and evaluation through stronger collaboration between reentry programs and research partners in order to determine the value of mentoring adults in reentry” (p.6).
The authors “worked with researchers, practitioners, correctional officials, and more than 150 organizations that have been awarded Second Chance Act mentoring grants. Through this work, the [authors have] identified five broad, field-based considerations for incorporating mentoring into reentry programming. Each section of [this resource] is intended to serve as a building block for reentry programs that are currently using or contemplating using mentors for an adult population” (p.6).
“Although the primary audience for this publication is community-based organizations that incorporate adult mentoring into their portfolio of reentry programming, other readers—such as correctional agencies or legislative officials—may use this publication to gain a better understanding of the components of adult reentry mentoring” (p.7).(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)
Major Findings & Recommendations
“When using mentoring as a component of a reentry program, practitioners should consider:
1. Integrating mentoring into the adult reentry program by establishing the roles of mentors, participants, and case managers, recruiting suitable mentors for the program model, matching participants to the appropriate mentors, and incorporating mentoring services into the broader reentry service-delivery model;
2. Collaborating with corrections, probation, and parole by discussing program goals and services thoroughly with corrections partners, obtaining and understanding corrections agencies’ clearance and background-check policies, being aware of procedures for volunteers and program staff to enter correctional facilities, and clearly defining the responsibilities of corrections, probation, parole, and program staff during the pre- and post-release phases of the reentry program;
3. Identifying and addressing reentry needs by understanding criminogenic risk and needs, establishing assessment procedures, and identifying and applying approaches that will enhance participant engagement;
4. Equipping mentors to support reentry goals by training them on skills that will support case management objectives, address participant engagement, promote prosocial attitudes and behaviors, and facilitate relationship building; and
5. Evaluating mentoring services by using a mix of qualitative and quantitative measures to capture the impact of mentoring services on recidivism and other reentry outcomes, and using findings to improve service delivery, engage stakeholders and funders, and inform decisions to scale up or replicate program models” (p.7).
“The five broad considerations presented in this publication can serve as a starting point for community-based organizations that wish to incorporate adult mentoring into existing reentry services. However, the field of adult mentoring in reentry continues to lack extensive resources and data that show:
• How reentry mentors can increase responsivity and motivation for service and treatment engagement;
• How reentry mentoring can promote the development of prosocial thinking, attitudes, and peers;
• How reentry mentoring can improve parenting, family engagement, and healthy relationship building; and
• How reentry program staff can effectively work with corrections to increase buy-in for incorporating peer mentoring into reentry and community supervision” (p.35).