Kansas Governor Sam Brownback today joined Kansas Department of Corrections Secretary Ray Roberts in announcing that the Mentoring 4 Success initiative has reached its initial goal of recruiting 500 mentors. The announcement was made at a press conference at the Kansas Urban League in Wichita. Director of the Kansas Urban League Chester Daniel also joined Governor Brownback and Secretary Roberts. The Mentoring 4 Success initiative is a community-based state-wide mentorship program that provides reentry or re-integration services to offenders exiting the prison system.
"I'm very excited at the level of interest and participation that this program has garnered already. Programs like these benefit everyone involved and have a positive impact on society. Offenders will be better able to connect with community resources; prisons will receive support in their efforts to rehabilitate offenders; communities will gain productive members of society; and the state will see its prison populations and recidivism rates go down. This program is a win-win for everyone," said Governor Brownback. "Despite reaching our first goal, we still need dedicated individuals who would like to give back to their community by volunteering their time and effort to this worthy cause."
Beginning six to twelve months prior to release, participating offenders will be paired with mentors to assist with job training and life skills necessary to lead a successful life outside of the prison system.
The Mentoring4Success initiative is led by a Steering Team comprised of experienced non-profit service organizations and the Kansas Department of Corrections. Their work provides the framework for this new program.
"Today's announcement demonstrates a real commitment to successful re-entry and creating programs that work, ensure public safety, and provide those offenders returning to communities from incarceration a second chance. Mentoring4Success demonstrates that diverse public sector entities can work together to address the needs of offenders as they transition back to communities," said Kansas Department of Corrections Secretary Ray Roberts.
To achieve state-wide reach, the Steering Team divided the State into six (6) regions. Within each region, "lead" mentoring organizations have been identified and will be responsible for organizing the local mentoring partners. Guided by the Kansas Department of Corrections, these organizations will prepare mentors to work safely and effectively with offenders in an effort to reduce the risk of re-offending or returning to prison.
A 2011 Pew study found that Kansas reduced its recidivism rates, through reentry programs, by 12.2 %. According to the study, Kansas had a recidivism rate of 55.1% from 1999-2002 and the rate dropped to 42.9% from 2004-2007--well below the national average.
Programs like Mentoring 4 Success create a safer environment for citizens, reduce the astronomical costs of the prison system on state government, and transform the lives of those incarcerated.
As a part of the Governor's Road Map for Kansas, partnering with mentorship programs was one of the strategies to Protect Kansas Families and to reduce the number of children living in poverty in Kansas