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Restorative Partners, a local not-for-profit organization, was founded by Sister Theresa Harpin. After years of providing programming and advocating for social justice at the County Jail and Juvenile Hall, Sister launched Restorative Partners in 2011. Our mission is to mobilize and coordinate programs which create positive changes and promote a restorative justice approach to crime in San Luis Obispo County. Restorative Partners serves people impacted by crime with a continuum of services and programs designed to meet their multiple needs. We offer programs free to all inmates without regard to race, national origin, color, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, age, or marital status.
According to the California Department of Corrections, over 60% of offenders will commit another crime within three years of release. This cycle of incarceration depletes resources and creates a class of people caught in the criminal justice system and failing to reach their human potential. While all ex-offenders are at-risk of re-offending, an increase in transitional services, rendered to ex-offenders, especially an increase in linkage between the ex-offenders and support services in the ex-offender’s areas of need, creates a seamless transition and are key in reducing recidivism (http://scholarworks.lib). Mentoring provides that support between incarceration and reentry. In Kansas, mentoring programs cut recidivism rates in prisons by half. (Ihttp://www.biomedsearch.com/article/Prisoner-reentry/179158817.html). The added benefit to our community is that Restorative Justice Practices have been shown to significantly improved employment rates, and reduce homelessness, resulting in a reduction of all three types of re-offending (re-arrest, re-conviction, and new offense re-incarcerations.
Restorative Partners creates lasting change: We assist formally incarcerated county residents in attaining financial stability and independence. We assist them in living healthy well-balanced lives thus improving the health and well- being of our entire community. Restorative Partner’s Reentry Mentorship Program builds safer communities, reunites families and children, and develops caring contributing citizens who are financially independent and culturally competent. This is accomplished by addressing the needs of those released from our county jail. Restorative Partners is doing this through the Reentry Mentorship Program.
The goal of the Reentry Mentorship Program is to decrease rates of recidivism by encouraging participants to make positive life choices that will promote healthy lifestyles, community engagement, and lead to personal growth and success. We hope to inspire new passions, hobbies, and interests through recreational opportunities. We hope to build self-esteem, improve communication skills.
We accomplish this mentoring.This program matches incarcerated participants (mentees) with volunteer community members (mentors) who work one on one to support, guide, and assist during this transition. Mentors act as a guide, a confidant, a resource, and a friend to their mentees. These mentors assist participants through the many and varied barriers facing the reentry community. Healing through relationship, these pairs inspire in one another new passions, hobbies, and interests. Mentors work to build self-esteem, improve communication skills, and work to create an increased awareness of community resources. Mentors also assist the mentees in overcoming barriers, as they arise. This could include creating a budget or resume, referrals to mental health professionals, securing health insurance, finding and maintaining employment and housing, as well as complying with terms of their probation, like attending AA or NA meetings or other classes.
- Dona Wilson
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