Recently, Freedom Ticket interviewed Hillary Freeman, codirector of the Community Justice Project, about the mentor program and how it can help residents at the Hennepin County Adult Corrections Facility (ACF) in Plymouth before and after their release.
What is the mentor program?
The Community Justice Project partners with the Minneapolis Police Department to train volunteer mentors to work with men and women prior to their release from the Hennepin County Adult Corrections Facility and assist them on their journey back to the community.
In addition to providing emotional support during the immediate transition from incarceration to community, a mentor can help their mentee navigate through social service and government channels and offer practical advice on job-hunting, personal finance and housing issues.
How does the mentor program benefit ACF residents?
Change is difficult for all people; however, we have found that in the five years that we have been doing this program, those inmates who stay connected to their mentors after release do not come back to the facility.
In 2008, 135 felons were matched with a mentor at the Hennepin County Adult Corrections Facility and only 13 percent were re-incarcerated during the first year after release. That is far better than the average 52 percent of Minnesota ex-offenders who end up back in prison the first year after release. Even more important, mentors improve public safety. Tracking shows that ex-offenders who stay connected to their mentor commit fewer crimes overall after release.
How can a resident join the mentor program?
Each week we interview eight ACF residents and try to match them with mentors at least six weeks prior to their release. The mentor commits to working with the resident for four hours per month for a year.
ACF residents who would like to learn more about the Community Justice Project can contact the chaplain or their probation officer and indicate that they want to be part of the mentor program. Community members who would like to become a mentor can find more information online at: