By Claire Froehlich | Chaplain, Juvenile Justice Ministries
“She has improved immensely and mentoring has been a key factor.” – Court liaison for Caitlyn in a court post-trial conference.
A “Covid positive” change to our work with incarcerated youth during this crisis has been mentoring more “pre-commitment or pre-trial” youth. Many young people in the system have said that if they’d had the support they needed before they went to jail, they never would have ended up in jail.
The State listened and is now moving faster in that direction to keep young people out of jail for health reasons as well. This has led to a surge in courts ordering mentors for youth in the pre-trial stage. Caitlyn disliked therapy so the court decided to try mentoring as an alternative. We met over the phone in April and, when it was safe, started hanging out every week.
“I have a lot of dreams of what I want to do. I want to have my own law firm, buy a Jeep, build a mansion of my own, have my own fashion line, help people in Africa…”
Caitlyn can expand on all these ideas rapid-fire, seemingly without taking a breath! Great energy but her Bipolar/ADHD has a downside – landing her in trouble with the law. Bouncing back and forth between two blended families with different rules increases impulsive outbursts, fights with siblings, a lack of follow through with chores (not that she’s good at cleaning her room in either house), losing interest quickly and bouncing onto the next thing that catches her attention.
Ok, typical teenager…amped up several degrees!
I managed to keep her focused as we ate at Freddy’s to sketch an outline of an essay she needed to write for court. She told me she obsessed about making every sentence perfect, which lead to frustration, then procrastination. We talked about consequences and letting some things be “good enough”. We managed to get an outline one week, more detail the next, and then finished the essay 2 days before trial.
“I don’t think I would have finished that essay without you making me do it. And it’s (mentoring) been fun! I like talking with you better than my therapist. You can still hang out with me after all my court stuff’s done, right?”
For every youth that avoids incarceration, taxpayers save an average of $45,000 a year. Thank you for helping Caitlyn avoid jail time, keep her dreams alive and save community funds in the process!
Thank you for being a part of the ongoing conversation with youth in our city and helping us share God’s story. It’s our honor to be the storytellers on your behalf who meet kids right where they are and give life to their story.
Providing young people in our community with the opportunity to make an informed decision to be a follower of Jesus Christ and become part of a local church.