03/16/08 — Volunteers needed to mentor offenders

View Archive

Volunteers needed to mentor offenders

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on March 16, 2008 2:01 AM

While Wayne County Day Reporting Center Director Theresa Barratt is hoping to expand their job training and apprenticeship programs, she is also hoping to offer her charges some personal attention as well.

She explained that while many of the criminal offenders in the day reporting program might be in their 20s and 30s, few come from solid backgrounds.

That's why she's looking for people to volunteer as mentors.

At the center, there are about 60 such men and women, ranging in ages from 16 to 35 years old. They also range in convictions, though many involve nonviolent, minor offenses. All are either on pretrial release, on probation or owe child support.

They are required to go through substance abuse programs, attend behavioral training classes and obtain their GEDs. Career readiness and job training programs also are available to them.

But, Mrs. Barratt said, what can help make all of those efforts come together is the personal attention of the mentors.

"They all have trust issues. A lot of time, they just need a friend -- somebody outside their world that will talk to them and listen to them and just to be a friend and a sounding board," she said.

Those interested in volunteering their time -- two hours a week -- can call Mrs. Barratt at 705-1904.

Mentors will be able to visit their charges only at the center, though she said that some may eventually be allowed to take trips outside.

And ultimately, she added, she hopes to have enough mentors lined up that some can begin helping in the public schools with at-risk youths.