The result of a partnership between Volunteers of America and the Norfolk County Sheriff’s office, the program assigns community members to inmates soon to be reentering society. Mentors meet with prisoners weekly for the final months of their term, then assist them through their first year after jail.
For Norfolk County Sheriff Michael Bellotti, bringing in mentors is an effort to reduce the prison population. About 670 reside at Norfolk County Correctional Center, more than twice its designed capacity of 302.
“It’s a dramatic shift in how we connect the inmates with the outside world,” Bellotti said. “This is inviting the outside community into our four walls to help bring down the obstacles that typically lead to recidivism.”
Issues relating to addiction or frustrations in searching for housing, employment or health care can lead recently released prisoners right back to their former lives and habits that got them arrested in the first place, Bellotti said.