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Mentoring Youth In the Justice System

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These six programs offer mentoring for those who are involved in the Justice System, either directly or as children of incarcerated parents.

1. Aftercare for Indiana through Mentoring (AIM)
AIM is a two-year university-based mentoring program for incarcerated juveniles in Indiana.  Founded in 1996, the program is currently funded by AmeriCorps and has served approximately1400 youth.

The program begins while the youth are still in correctional facilities. The youth are expected to reevaluate their lifestyle, behaviors and attitudes. Mentors help them develop plans for after their release, such as housing, education, and jobs. The program reports a 60% reduction in recidivism.

Related publications
Program Reduces Juvenile Recidivism: Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis Criminal Justice students Participate in Mentoring Program

“Reaching out to Juvenile Inmates”

Participants’ personal stories and comments

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Mentoring Children of Incarcerated Parents
Amachi is a mentoring program for children of incarcerated parents run by local churches in Pennsylvania. The program was developed in collaboration with Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America and the University of Pennsylvania, and served 517 children in the past two years. Program staff members visit local prisons, talk to parents about the program, distribute pamphlets, facilitate workshops, and gather information about the children.  They get consent from the parents and the caretakers before matching. Upon recruitment, staff members make every effort to bridge the gap between parents, caregivers and children.

Preliminary evaluation was conducted by Public/Private Venture in 2003:
Amachi: Mentoring Children of Prisoners in Philadelphia

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3. Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration's (JRA) Mentoring Program
JRA Mentoring projects are for youths who are about to be released from youth correctional facilities in the Seattle area. The youth are matched with a same gender adult 4-6 months prior to their release. The mentor and youth make a one-year commitment. Mentor program coordinators and counselors provide initial and ongoing mentor training and support. The program has been replicated at multiple sites in Washington State.

Preliminary data, based on a small sample, shows a 34% reduction in felonies:

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4. Mentoring Children of Prisoners
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Administration for Children and Families
In this program, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) assists mentoring programs to serve children of incarcerated parents. The goal isto pair more than 100,000 adolescent children of prisoners with an adult mentor.

Overall, there is little information about children of incarcerated parents. However the papers presented in a recent conference provides extensive information from various perspectives: Report from The National Policy Conference From Prison to Home: The Effect of Incarceration and Reentry on Children, Families, and Communities, January 30-31, 2002, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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5. VIP Mentoring
Volunteers in Prevention, Probation and Prisons, Inc.(VIP) is a pioneer in mentoring juvenile offenders. Historically, the juvenile justice system was supported by numbers of volunteers, however those volunteers have been replaced by professionals over the years.  In 1969, volunteers were brought back to start a program providing one-to-one mentoring for juveniles convicted of misdemeanors. Today, the program has been replicated nationwide.

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6. Youth Justice Board (United Kingdom)

Mentoring has become increasingly popular in the United Kingdom. This website provides comprehensive and practical information about mentoring at-risk youth for practitioners to successfully implement a program.  The information is provided "for those working within the youth justice system."

Case Study:

Research Evidence (References):

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