LOS ANGELES — For the past nine years, formerly incarcerated individuals have been volunteering to visit incarcerated youth at the Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall through the Anti-Recidivism Coalition’s Credible Messengers program.
Many mentors return to the same place where they were once incarcerated, but this time to ensure youth see that they have a different life path available once released.
The program has seen success, but given the volunteer aspect, the organization hoped to be inside the facilities more often to help reach out to more youth.
In 2023, the LA County Department of Youth Development made that possible by funding 10 formerly incarcerated individuals to mentor youth at various juvenile halls across the county full-time.
These individuals have a level of understanding of what the incarcerated youth are going through that is often unmatched by regular counselors or other rehabilitation programs.
A study published in the National Library of Medicine showed that being incarcerated as a youth resulted in poorer physical and mental outcomes later in life. It also reported these youth had an increased risk of substance abuse and incarceration as adults.
According to LA County officials, there are about 500 youth serving time in juvenile halls.
The program hopes the funding will help even more people break these cycles of recidivism.
Once released, many of these individuals face barriers to getting jobs, housing, or an identification card.
That is why the program also helps the youth get into a trade or college curriculum and provides housing, therapy, and a stipend to remove any obstacles the individual might face as they try to change the course of their life path