Former convict Johnathan Bassett, left, and mentor Brent Mancuso play a board game at OpenDoors.

The Providence Journal / Ruben W. Perez

Most programs that try to prevent released inmates from going back to prison involve probation offices, job-training classes and counseling visits. But on Wednesday night at the Broad Street offices of OpenDoors this month, it was pizza, backgammon and a book club.

OpenDoors, a nonprofit social-service agency that helps released inmates reenter society, is one of 16 organizations across the country to participate in the Second Chance mentoring program that tries to match recently released inmates with people who can provide them with friendship and guidance as they adapt to the world after prison.

Some of their mentors are ex-inmates who say they get to give the help they’d wish they’d gotten when they were released.

On a recent evening, the program was in high gear. About a dozen mentors and their matches were in the main meeting room at OpenDoors, chatting and joking while others played chess, backgammon or cards. In another room, a smaller group was discussing “The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom,” by Don Miguel Ruiz…


Categories: Issues

1 Comment

Liberty G · January 24, 2011 at 7:09 pm

This is a very positive news story. Years ago, I worked as a Alternatives to Violence workshop trainer in prisons in New York state, and found many behind bars with the interest and ability to seek a different way of life.

I am a great believer in mentors, in fact I think they are an important need in our educational system. Human beings need the support of caring individuals who will listen to them, understand their problems and needs, and assist them to think constructively.

So, I salute those who have created and are running this program!

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