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Summit County Common Pleas Court Launches Mentor Program

A photo of the entrance to the Summit County Courthouse.
Tim Rudell
The shared experiences between a mentor and mentee are important to successful re-entry into society, says Re-entry Court Judge Mary Margaret Rowlands.

The Summit County Common Pleas Court has launched a new program called MENTOR. The goal of the program is to match a previously incarcerated person with someone who has successfully navigated re-entry into society.

The Mentors Empowering Now to Overcome Recidivism Program is available to people who are granted early release from prison. Their mentor will offer support and guidance for a year or however long it takes the participant to complete the program.

Re-entry Court Judge Mary Margaret Rowlands thinks this relationship built on shared experiences is vital to a successful re-entry into society.

“When you find someone who does understand even just a little bit, it often is the key that can unlock a release of the barriers,” she said.

Rowlands says past participants have a lot of insight and guidance to share.

Rowlands on program mentors

“Certainly, I’m encouraging the people who are successful in my programs to be thinking about this, thinking about how to give back, putting themselves in the shoes of a new participant who’s uncertain,” she said.

Mentors will attend training before being matched with a participant in the program.

Those interested in being a Re-entry Mentor must be at least 18 years old; have successful experience with recovery or the criminal justice system; be willing to meet once a month with a mentee; fill out a Re-entry Mentor Application; submit a background check; and attend volunteer and Re-entry Mentor training. A past criminal record does not automatically disqualify someone from being a Re-entry Mentor.

Contact Re-entry Court Mentor Specialist Nicole Argenio with questions or interest in being a mentor at 330-643-6515 or reentrymentorprogram@cpcourt.summitoh.net.

Abigail Bottar covers Akron, Canton, Kent and the surrounding areas for Ideastream Public Media.
Kelly Krabill is a multiple media journalist at Ideastream Public Media. Her work includes photography and videography. Her radio and web reporting covers a wide range of topics across Northeast Ohio.