Volunteers needed to mentor youth offenders re-entering society

University of Arkansas at Little Rock

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock Department of Criminal Justice is seeking volunteers for the second year of a mentoring program to help youth offenders successfully re-enter society after being in the juvenile justice system during the 2018-19 school year. 

UA Little Rock students will mentor young offenders as they transition out of residential facilities and back into their communities.

“This program offers students a unique opportunity to experience juvenile justice from inside the system and positively impact the lives of youth right here in our communities,” said Dr. Tusty ten Bensel, associate professor of criminal justice who is leading the mentoring program.

Participating UA Little Rock students will mentor youth for two hours a week while they’re in a juvenile justice facility and after they’re released.

UA Little Rock students interested in participating must be at least 21 and pass criminal records and reference checks. They also must be interviewed by criminal justice faculty members and participate in a two-semester academic course worth six credit hours that will meet once a week.

During the first semester, students will learn about the juvenile justice system and be trained as a mentor. The second semester will be devoted to learning how to help mentees successfully re-enter society after incarceration. Mentors will learn how they can help their mentees with tasks such as getting a job, going back to school and opening a bank account. Mentors also will help youths learn how to handle personal conflicts, family problems, and anger management issues, ten Bensel said.

“These juveniles face a lot of obstacles in their life, and they often don’t have the stability of one person they can count on,” ten Bensel said. “I hope our students can be that one person who is a role model and someone they can look up to.”

For more information and to apply to the program, contact ten Bensel at ixzohra@ualr.edu.

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