The Delaware Mentor Program

Daily Point of Light # 1246 Nov 12, 1998

The Delaware Mentor Program, started in 1992, is a rehabilitation program for women offenders that operates out of the Delores J. Baylor Women's Correctional Institute and the Sussex Work Release Center in Wilmington, DE. The program's mission is to help women offenders become constructive members of society by providing positive role models and classes that help the women understand how to function effectively in society.

The Delaware Mentor Program has recruited approximately 100 volunteers, including professionals such as psychologists, addiction counselors, therapists, lawyers, college professors and bankers. These volunteers teach workshops, serve on the board and provide direct services for the women in prison. The program consists of 13 weeks of workshops, four nights per week. There are three classes of 25 women each and all classes culminate in a graduation ceremony for those who successfully complete the program.

The Mentor Program complements other rehabilitation programs dealing with drug and alcohol addictions and life skills. With the belief that addictions are merely a symptom of a bigger problem, one purpose of the program is to work on issues other than the addiction itself that cause the women to use drugs. More than half of the women in this program are incest survivors and most have been exposed to some form of physical or emotional abuse. By participating in this program, which is done on a completely voluntary basis, the women learn to stop being victims and to take control of their own lives.

The Delaware Mentor Program also works with work-release prisoners. At the Sussex Work Release Center, volunteers help women transition back into society by assisting with job placement, housing, transportation and the conduction of additional workshops on issues that the women will face upon their release.