Free2Succeed Update

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By Jeff Kirkman, Free2Succeed program manager

Free2Succeed is the IDOC community mentoring program and focuses on offenders who are about 30-90 days from being released AND for those already on community supervision. 

Here are just a few examples of what mentors can and do provide for offenders:

• Rides to where they need to go when they don’t have one – aftercare class, Voc. Rehab, PO office for check in, medical appointments, church, school, work, SS, DMV, etc.

• Help them find employment, work on resumes and job coaching

• Look for more appropriate housing

• Help them enroll in school or finish a GED

• Provide collateral contacts for PO staff

• Work to develop positive social connections and friends 

• Be a sounding board and a person to trust and talk to 

• Attend programs and classes with them as a support

• Seek out additional community resources and support services 

• Work with family members 

There have been approximately 360 offenders from every facility who have specifically requested a mentor while incarcerated in anticipation for their return to society. There are also some who have requested a mentor while currently on supervision in the community and we should start to see that number grow as that population who may not have heard about the opportunity to request a mentor while incarcerated are hearing about it in the community. 

Some program points: 

• Offenders matched with a mentor before release are given an opportunity to call their mentor from a staff phone. This is coordinated with the facility VRC. 

• Mentors do not go into the prisons to mentor except at CRC’s with administration approval.

• Participation is voluntary and is initiated by a request for a mentor from the offender via the VRC or case manager. Those in the community may request a mentor via a link on our website or their PO. 

• Mentors meet regularly with the mentee upon release and report back (in a very simplified format) to the PO as to how things are going, any issues, concerns, etc. 

• Mentor training continues to be scheduled throughout the state and recruitment is always ongoing.

• There is a lot of interest and support from community leaders, churches, colleges and universities, other agencies and law enforcement, and other organizations statewide.Currently, there are about 160 community mentors from across the state that have completed the application to be a mentor. We also have a number of individuals that, although they may not have submitted an application to be a mentor, are working with offenders in the community to get them reestablished and the support they need. These individuals may come from churches and community support and outreach organizations.

If you are involved with a community organization, or a church or other faith-based group, or know of others who are looking for a way to help offenders renter society and stay there, please direct them to our website:

Story published: 01/11/2017
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