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PRO-ACT’s Mentor+ Program was created by the recovering community of Bucks County, PA, to serve inmates in early recovery at the Bucks County Correctional Facility (BCCF). Its purpose is to offer hope, advice, counsel and friendship to inmates who are incarcerated directly or indirectly for substance abuse-related crimes. Working in pairs, the Mentors (trusted advisors) meet with the “Mentee” to assist them in making healthy decisions in the areas of housing, employment, transportation, parental issues, identification, health, substance abuse and other support programs and social activities.
Mentor pairs meet with each Mentee weekly while incarcerated to assist the Mentee in formulating a plan for the relevant areas of their lives, so upon release usually in about three months, the Mentee may increase the likelihood of success in Bucks County, and minimize the risk of re-incarceration. Upon release from BCCF, the Mentor pair continues to work, usually weekly, with their Mentee, continuing to provide support and assistance while the Mentee begins to put his or her plan into action. Concurrently, all Mentors meet together as a group monthly, typically on the fourth Wednesday of the month at 6 pm at rotating locations in Doylestown (check the calendar for upcoming meetings). Mentors may then ask for more information to assist their particular Mentee, and receive training in various related topics, such as legal assistance, in order to improve their utility to guiding the Mentees.
Mentees are given material that explains the Mentor+ Program, are screened and selected by trained staff at BCCF, and must be Bucks County residents or will be residing in Bucks County after their release. They must be committed to sobriety, and typically will have between two and four months left to serve on their sentence. Being a Mentee does not affect the date of release from incarceration or count toward any court-imposed requirement – it is meant solely to assist the incarcerated person with the work he or she must do to meet self-set objectives.
Those interested in becoming a Mentor must be members of the recovering community, with a minimum of two (2) years of continuous sobriety, and cannot currently be on probation or parole with any criminal justice agency. The Mentor+ Program also consists of an Advisory Board, comprised of a pool of experts in several relevant fields, such as judiciary, medical including mental health, legal, educational and employment. These volunteers provide knowledge and education to the Mentors to assist them in acquiring information for handling different areas of the Mentee’s plan. These volunteers for the Advisory Board are not required to be a member of the recovering community.
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