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A Faith- and Character-Based Facility
Wakulla Correctional Institution

Wakulla CI Faith- and Character-Based Prison Mentoring


Presently, the Mentoring program is scheduled for Monday evenings, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Main Unit. The program is on the first and third Thursday of each month at the Work Camp.

Why mentoring ?
Mentoring is a unique and valuable volunteer service in prisons. It can often be the foundation for fundamental, positive change. Mentoring is provided so that each inmate will have a positive influence in life and have a positive contact to assist the inmate upon release. Mentoring is intended to enhance personal growth through the sharing of experiences and wisdom and to offer a framework for teaching and modeling values and life skills.Mentoring topics will be geared towards personal growth in ethical behavior and interpersonal relationships.

Mentoring ideally will be a one-on-one relationship, with mentor and inmate of the same gender. It is a new challenge to extend a mentoring program opportunity to an entire prison population and we will work hard to build a sustained base of volunteer mentors and provide a one-on-one mentoring experience for every interested resident.

Selecting Residents

Mentors are assigned as available by the volunteer coordinator. Inmates may change or decline mentors at any time without any penalty and may request a new mentor. Mentors may decline to mentor an inmate at any time and may request a new inmate to mentor.

Volunteer Mentors 
All mentors must complete the required DOC volunteer training and pass DOC security clearance requirements.
A female mentor must be accompanied by a male mentor and may NOT mentor alone with a male inmate or inmates.
Successful volunteer mentors all seem to have two important qualities:
1) Faithfulness - they show up when they can and let someone know when they can't make it.
2) Good listening skills - they are thoughtful, careful listeners.

The Mentoring Process
Volunteer mentors should be at the gate no later than 6:15 p.m. on Monday evening, the first four Mondays each month. We will enter our PIN # and handprint into the FAST system, and go to the mentoring location as a group. If you mentor at the Work Camp, there is no FAST system there at this time; be sure to wear your volunteer badge or bring your driver's license. Note that you should wear your volunteer badge at all times in the Main Unit also. You will likely be split temporarily into groups of 5 by the security officers in order to be checked for metal, etc. going in and going out.
 
Mentoring Training
Mentors all have volunteer training and also a short orientation at the beginning of each 6-month cycle.

  • Policy: Faith- and character-based institutions are designed to provide a wide range of activities for eligible inmates who have indicated an interest in personal growth and character development. A faith- and character-based institution provides a public forum for community volunteers to offer programs in all areas of personal growth and character development. Volunteers from both secular and religious organizations are equally welcome to participate, subject only to content neutral time, place and manner restrictions based on institutional, administrative and security needs. An inmate’s religious faith, or lack thereof, is not considered in determining eligibility for a faith- and character-based institution. A faith- and character-based institution will emphasize the importance of personal responsibility, work, education, substance abuse treatment and peer support. The goals of a faith- and character-based institution include without limitation, rehabilitation, reintegration of inmates into the community, reduction of recidivism, increasing system-wide institutional security, offering a fuller range of religious accommodations, and enhancing restorative justice programming.
     

  • Programs: The warden or assistant warden will impose only content neutral time, place and manner restrictions on volunteer activities. These restrictions may include without limitation generally applicable correctional guidelines consistent with the general order, security and institutional operation. Religious activities will be scheduled in accordance with “Chaplaincy Services,” Procedure 503.002. Academic and vocational programs will be provided pursuant to “Academic Education Programs,” Procedure 501.106; “Workforce Development Education for Inmates,” Procedure 502.001; and in accordance with the Department of Education Curriculum Framework.  Inmates will be required to perform work and other assignments as they would in every correctional institution. Inmates will be required to maintain continuous participation in at least one self-betterment activity while assigned to a faith- and character-based institution, provided such activity is available. Institutional classification staff will keep track of the inmate’s participation. Volunteers may assist with the maintenance of records.  

Review DOs / DON’Ts.

1.   Lock your vehicle, keep your keys in your pocket, do not lay them down anywhere.  No weapons or alcohol of any form should be in your vehicle. 

2.  Do not enter the institution with any: weapons, brief case, drugs, cell phones, mirrors, fingernail clippers equipped with files, over $60.00 in cash. Anything you bring in must be pre-approved by the volunteer supervisor. 

3.   Dress should be modest. You are not permitted to wear shorts, short skirts or see-through material; men should maintain at least casual dress.  Ladies are permitted to wear city shorts and culottes.  

4.   Do not give anything to an inmate except that which has already been pre-approved by the volunteer supervisor. The main things they ask for are ink pens or stamps. 

5.   Do not take anything from an inmate; do not agree to do anything for an inmate, like make a phone call to his family for him or mail out a letter. 

6.   Unless you are participating as a mentor, do not write to inmates at the same facility where you are volunteering.  Do not give them your phone number or accept phone calls from them at your home. 

7.   You cannot be on an inmate's visiting list at the same institution where you are volunteering. 

8.   Stay only in those areas that the volunteer supervisor has designated.  Try to stay together as a group when walking to the lunch line or out to the rec. field. 

9.   Do not leave any items that are assigned to you unattended; if you lay something down it may disappear. 

10. Appropriate touch only (i.e. handshakes, the laying on of a hand to the head or shoulder if necessary while praying); no hugging or embracing. 

11. Remain security conscious at all times. Remember this is a correctional facility and security takes precedence over all programs.  If an officer gives you an order you must comply immediately.  

Introduce the session coordinator. Have him tell how he may be contacted. 

  • Please contact your session coordinator if you will not be there for a particular meeting.  

Walk through a normal mentoring meeting. 

  • You will arrive at the assigned time. Please try to be on time or early.

  • The first set of inmates will be escorted in.

  • You will be spending 45 minutes or more with your first set of assigned inmates.

  • When the session coordinator asks you to wrap up or quit, please do so promptly.

  • Be patient during the changeover from the first set of inmates to the second. 

  • You will then be spending 45 minutes or more with your second set of assigned inmates.

  • Wrap up as instructed. 

  • The mentors will stay where they are until the inmates have been escorted from the mentoring site. 

  • The mentors will be escorted to the gate area in a group. 

Suggestions: 

  • Remember: Security is #1; please cooperate promptly with prison officials.

  • Don’t bring anything in that you don’t need. 

  • Don’t bring your Bible, Koran or other religion-specific symbols. 

  • Get a notebook to keep track of your assigned inmates. 

  • Don’t preach or attempt to convert while mentoring.

  • Be a friend. 

  • Listen a lot. 

  • How to listen.

  • Make a decision to listen.

  • Work hard to listen – even if it feels artificial at first.

  • Suspend judgment and be open to the presence of the other person’s painful heart.

  • Your body posture should say “I’m open, I’m interested, I’m attentive.”

  • Maintain good eye contact.

  • Track what the speaker is saying both on content and feeling levels.

  • Use oral responses that are affirming. 

  • Don’t discuss spiritual stuff unless it’s ok with your assigned inmates. 

  • Don’t pray unless it’s ok with your assigned inmates. 

  • Be considerate of others (both mentors and inmates) that may be of other religious persuasions. 

  • When mentoring more than one inmate, attempt to involve each of the inmates in the discussions. 

  • If the inmate asks questions about you, be open but do not reveal personal information that might be used by the inmate for illegal or undesirable purposes.

  • If you have preference as to the religion, vocation, interest, etc of the inmates you will mentor, please indicate that to your session coordinator. This will be helpful in assigning you to compatible inmates. 

  • If you are harassed in any way or treated disrespectfully in any way, report this to your session coordinator immediately. 

What mentoring does for the inmate. 

  • Gives him hope. 

  • Gives him a different perspective.

  • Gives him a friend who will visit and listen. 

What mentoring does for you. 

  • Gives you a blessing because you are helping someone. 

  • Gives you a different perspective. 

  • Gives you a friend.