Thanks to Doc Berman at Corr Sent for this story of how one on one mentoring in New York is helping people to get out and stay out.
Mark Goldsmith didn't expect to go to jail when he volunteered to be "principal for a day" at a New York City school. But after requesting a "tough school," he was assigned to Horizon Academy, a high school for inmates ages 18 to 24 at Rikers Island prison.
Mr. Goldsmith, a former executive at Revlon and Shiseido, was ushered through locked gates to the prison's classrooms. Standing in front of his new class, he looked at the young students and saw in them signs of his own difficult youth. He had never committed a crime; but he told the students he thought he was dumb, and graduated near the bottom of his high-school class. He enrolled in college at night because his wife insisted, but he didn't think he could achieve anything. Then, he landed his first business job at 29 at Coty, a fragrance company then owned by Pfizer, and proved his hard work could earn him advances.
"I started at the bottom, got in earlier than anyone and left later, and then I got promoted -- and you can do this, too," he explained to the class.
Mr. Goldsmith felt the teaching experience was rewarding for both sides and volunteered again for the program. After, he decided he needed more than just one day a year with these inmates if he were to help them turn their lives around. In 2005, he launched his own nonprofit, Getting Out and Staying Out. GOSO, as it is called, now is working with 275 inmates serving sentences in upstate New York prisons and 150 at Rikers.
Mr. Goldsmith and 14 other current or retired executives who volunteer at GOSO, based in Harlem, plus a paid staff of six, are working to counter the familiar story of prisoners getting released without skills, jobs, money or a place to live, and then resorting to crime only to get locked up again. Fewer than 10% of the 400 released inmates GOSO has worked with have been arrested again since the group was formed three years ago. That figure compares with two-thirds of prisoners released annually nationwide who have been rearrested, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.Wall Street Journal