Youth Mentor Program
C. L. (Josh) Lorick, Director
Each year in South Carolina, several thousand young people under the age of 17 are charged with criminal offenses. Some of these are minor infractions, while others are major, sometimes violent, offenses.
The community response to juvenile crime should include rehabilitative and prevention strategies aimed at a reduction in the rates of incarceration and recidivism. This is best accomplished through community based programs for non-violent offenders, thereby reserving the limited space at the juvenile facilities for the more serious offenders.
The Youth Mentor Program was founded in the fall of 1992 by the Fifth Circuit Solicitor and a small group of area ministers. Their focus was on addressing the issues of the increase in juvenile crime, incarceration and recidivism rates, and on offering viable solutions to these problems.
Additional churches are needed to provide volunteer mentors. To enroll your church, or for more information, please call: (803) 734-7135
As a commitment to making a difference in the lives of young people, the Office of the Attorney General has instituted and broadened the Youth Mentor Program. A voluntary program, the mentor approach links the offending juvenile to a church or community organization where an indivdual mentor will be assigned to him/her. The mentor will monitor the personal and academic development of the juvenile for six months to one year as ordered by the court. In September 1995, former Attorney General Charlie Condon announced the adoption of the program by the Attorney General's Office, with a goal to expand the program. The bipartisan support of the program by elected officials is a testimony to the commitment to recognize and deal with the short-term and long-term impact of juvenile crime upon our communities.
The goal of the YOUTH MENTOR PROGRAM is to provide the youth with the necessary values, motivation and sense of self-responsibility to guide him/her towards productive and positive citizenship.
The YOUTH MENTOR PROGRAM focuses primarily on the repeat offender, and on occasion, the circumstantial offender. Voluntary assignments to the program are also allowed through parental recommendations and consent. Religious institutions, including churches, masjids and synagogues, provide mentors. The expansion of the program will also include recruiting the services of community organizations and schools.
Services Provided by Mentors
Candidates for the YOUTH MENTOR PROGRAM are recommended by the Family Court Solicitors and the Program Coordinator. Tenure in the program --usually from six months to one year -- is based on the severity of the crime. Local religious and community organizations provide volunteer mentors who monitor the fulfillment of the program requirements.
Successful completion of the program requirements will result in dismissal of the juvenile petition. When it is appropriate, restitution will be required to compensate victims for their losses. This program was the first of its kind in the United States to target juvenile crime and incarceration reduction by linking the Solicitor's office with the local community through the mentoring process. Now, in cooperation with the South Carolina Attorney General, the program shall be used as pre-trial diversion option for solicitors and as an optional alternative sentence for Family Court judges.
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