On any given day more than 400 people reside at Cumberland County Prison. Thousands more make their way through the facility every year. Nearly all will one day return to the local community.
That is why the county started a re-entry program in an effort to give those being released from the prison the best chance of never returning behind bars.
The program, run through the county’s adult probation and parole department, provides inmates access to services like adult education and pairs them with a mentor to help their reintegration into the community.
“There are so many barriers people have coming out of jail,” said Ashley Rohm, coordinator for the Cumberland County Adult Reentry Program. “It’s really what can we do differently. What do people need that they didn’t have before?”
A meeting for potential volunteer mentors was held [in early January]. Anyone interested in being a mentor [was] invited to attend the meeting, Rohm said.
“A lot of what (the participants) need is someone to guide them and sort them,” she said. “A lot of them are coming from our communities … I think the mentors just have such an important role (in breaking the cycle of incarceration.) The fact that they are non-family, non-probation, just somebody from the community that truly wants to help and just spend time with them and talk to them and find out what they want.”