Today’s Rotary meeting featured Sponsors Mentorship Program. Sponsors Mission is to assist men and women from Lane County released from Oregon state correctional facilities and the Lane County Jail in making a successful reentry into our community. Our success results in a safer community, the reunification of families and children, the establishment of the released offender as a positive role model for his/her children; and citizens who pay taxes and are contributing, productive members of the community.
Sponsors is nationally recognized as a model utilizing best practices in reentry services. Here are a few notes from the presentation.
- 50% of prisoners that come to Lane County are homeless.
- About 80% of prisoners have alcohol or drug related issues.
- The US has more prisoners than China.
- 140 beds now in Lane County area plus services.
- 6-9 months before release, they apply for Sponsors. There are many factors considered for those accepted including potential housing sources. When they come to Sponsors, they go through an intake process in order to learn more about them and devise a plan.
- Plans include transitional housing (60-90 day stays), an assigned case manager, longer term housing for some, sources of income (employment, disability, etc.), addiction recovery programs, cognitive therapy to end criminal thinking patterns, resources to address mental illness, and developing a positive resource network.
- If participants don’t have a job, they come to the resource center every day to work on finding employment or refining skills.
- The Sponsors Mentorship program is a way for participants to develop their network, to have someone they can rely on who can provide positive support.
- Mentors commit for a year and are provided with training and support, plus structured events and training. Matches are one-on-one and mentors are asked for 4-6 hours a month of face time (normally about an hour a week). Sponsors staff are involved to foster and maintain an effective match.
- Preliminary statistics indicate this program has helped reduce additional offenses by about 50% (more exact statistics coming soon).
- Sponsors is funded primarily through grants.