Become a mentor with the Restorative Justice Project

Jan 22, 2014

Rejoining society after serving a sentence in prison is fraught with difficulties. Many inmates have lost their families, jobs, homes and sense of self. The recidivism rate for Maine prisoners is close 60 percent.

The Restorative Justice Project of the Midcoast provides stable, compassionate and resourceful mentors for residents of the Maine Coastal Regional Re-entry Center in Belfast and for juveniles who have been charged with a crime.

The relationships that develop from mentoring help ease the transition back into society for many residents, reducing the rate of recidivism. Often, the bond formed through weekly encounters is strong enough to help transform lives.

Becoming a mentor is as easy as signing up for the next RJP training session, which will be held at the First Baptist Church in Belfast on Jan. 29, Feb. 1 and Feb. 5.

The sessions, which last between two and a half and three hours, include reflections on mentoring, information about the philosophy of restorative justice and its practice, and insights into the genesis of crimes. Participants will talk with an active mentor and mentee as part of the training.

Last year about 75 volunteer mentors gave more than 3,000 hours of their time meeting with inmates and juveniles. The mentors are a diverse group that includes teachers, mental health professionals, lobstermen, carpenters, insurance executives, pastors, church-goers and community activists.

One said, "Starting a mentor relationship is like turning the cover of a good novel. Inside are great, sometimes sad stories and surprises and tough going. The plot twists and turns as if a great writer was pushing things around. And the end? Is there really an end?"

To register for the sessions, please contact Hanlon Kelley at 338-2742, ext. 2, or e-mail hanlon@rjpmidcoast.org.

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