According to Rochester’s Judicial Process Commission (JPC), their primary focus is to support the rights of all people affected by the criminal justice system and promote changes to that system that help them achieve their fullest potential.
“We have a very important mission that’s geared to help people get their life back on track for the betterment of themselves, their children and our community,” said Susan Porter, JPC’s Executive Director. “However, we are experiencing a crucial shortage of mentors, which has been a complimentary and integral piece to our program’s success and clients’ successes.”
to bring new mentors in and tell them about the programs and different training methods. “The mentors are required to signed-off for a year commitment and meet weekly with their mentees,” said Pam Bollar, JPC’s Mentor Coordinator. “They give us feedback on how the client is doing. And what services they may need to be connected too.”
The JPC has four key programs that includes, the New Journey Program that help mothers in county jail during their pre-and-post-release. The Legal Action Project, which is two separate programs for men and women that’s geared for the same purpose, and works with people from the community that have been out of jail 5 days or 5 years, who are trying to get employment. And the Small Shelter Plus Program, which JPC collaborates with the Rochester Housing Authority to help those formerly incarcerated that are homeless get an apartment.
“A mentor is important because it’s basically an average citizen that’s providing that support and encouragement,” Porter said. “And a lot of clients would rather go to a peer, or an average citizen or person versus the professional social worker.”
Peter, a mentor at JPC and current student at Monroe Community College (MCC), majoring in Human Services and Psychology said, he’s a born helper, who have a similar background with those that rely on the services JPC provides. “I guess it’s a cliché to say most young men of color in urban communities grow up a certain way and has experienced certain things, so who better to aid and assist those who have been in similar situations succeed,” Peter said. “So that’s been my goal to aid and give back to those that don’t know how or don’t have the means to acquire what they need to succeed or do what’s right in society.
Families, who have male family members that are currently incarcerated at the county jail can encourage them to sign-up with Rev. Butts and Rev. Williams, who visits the county facility every week. Women are done on a referral basis and can be referred directly by contacting the JPC Office.
“This is a terrific program in all aspects,” Porter said. “However, we’re in a crucial situation where the lack of mentors and charitable donations are threatening to significantly scale back or eliminate what we have been doing here for more than 35-years,” she said. “So, we’re looking for a good turn-out of potential mentors from the community on Jan. 15 and 16, when we host our recruitment seminar at 84 Scio Street.”
“The program gives you a lot of warmth, when you see the women reunite with their children,” Bollar added. “And when you see them later in life, they’ve kept their sobriety, and they’re happy and you’re happy. Those are the success stories you look for and they make you feel good,” she said.
To learn more about becoming a mentor or donating or services available at JPC located at 1921 Norton Street, visit their website at: www.rocjpc.org or call 585.325.7727 or Fax: 585.325.2165.